Human Translation versus Machine Translation

September 24th, 2009
If weren't for the superiority of human translation over machine translation, then most companies would be relying on machine translators exclusively. At any rate, multinational enterprises need to realize sooner rather than later that professional translation is an expertise that should never be underestimated. In general, the art of translation and translation services don't just depend on word-for-word replacement of a source language text with a target language equivalent. If that were the case, then human translation would be rendered obsolete by machine translation. At the moment though, all professional translation is best done with human translation and the occasional machine translation service. The Shortcomings of Machine Translation To illustrate, a computer translation assistant once automatically translated an article about the former First Lady of the United States, Laura Bush, in French. Although computer translators are programmed to discern certain expressions and figures of speech, each and every instance of "Laura Bush" found in the article ended up being translated as "le buisson de Laura". More to the point, "Bush" was transliterated by the machine as a noun instead of a family name, and "buisson" is incidentally French slang for "vagina" to boot. As long as automatic machine translators lack self-awareness or insight equal to that of a normal human being, human translation will always be needed. At any rate, let's now take a good look at what a high-grade, topnotch professional translation really looks like. To reiterate, it's important to view a translator as an expert craftsman; a linguist, a specialist, and a wordsmith all-in-one multiplied by two or more different languages. The Advantages of Human Translation Even though translators can hardly be compared to, say, writers or journalists when it comes to making stories and articles from scratch, they are still considered experts in their field because of the way they hone a source text to fit a certain audience. In those terms, translators can be compared to editors who constantly shape, mold, and perfect a written piece for better public consumption. To illustrate, here's the typical way a translator goes about his business: Once he has finishes a draft of his translation, he'll check whether or not his work contains any inconsistencies, misunderstandings, gaffes, and the like via constant and deliberate proofreading. From there, the translator will rewrite his proofread outline so that it will hide the translation marks. Being able to do so will help make the end product seem less like the result of a translation service and more like an original document. ---

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