The Limitations of Computers as Translation Tools
- Computers Lack Human Experience: Even way back in 1960, people have been attempting to mix the intuitiveness of personal computing with the task of translating documents from one language to another. However, an early machine translation researcher was able to astutely point out even then that computers typically have a hard time deciding if a "pen" refers to a writing utensil or the place where pigs wallow in the mud. The computer doesn't only require knowledge of the relative sizes of real-life objects (information that we humans take for granted) in order to create an accurate translation; it also needs to have a precise comprehension of the text, which includes an enormous multitude of information about the world we live in and an acute understanding of the situation or idea being described.
- Primitive Artificial Intelligence: It may seem like a stretch to say, but the truth of the matter is that unless computers finally achieve self-awareness and the ability to experience the world the way we humans do, no computer could ever match humans when it comes to professional translation. There is no substitute for actual sapience and experience. To wit, computers cannot translate like people because they aren't like people, and they lack the knowledge and experiences people have when expressing themselves in a particular language. Human translation will remain king until the day when AI ultimately advances in leaps and bounds.
- Cultural Insensitivity: If a computer can't do the simple task of translating the proper meaning of everyday human conversation, then how much more inept can it be when handling politics and cultural differences? Translation, especially diplomatic translation, require sensitivity to the total context of a document or speech, which includes knowing the culture of the people whose language you're translating as well as the culture of the people requesting for a translation. It's a double-edged sword that no computer program or software suite on Earth is prepared to handle.
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International Translation Day is held in celebration of the feast of St Jerome, the Bible translator widely considered the patron saint of translators. The International Federation of Translators is the promoter of International Translation Day, and has been since it was first held in 1953.
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