4 proven advantages of human translation vs. machine translation

4 proven advantages of human translation vs. machine translation

4 proven advantages of human translation vs machine translation

4 proven advantages of human translation vs machine translation

Why machine translation is not an option for accurate translations

The term Artificial Intelligence is on everybody’s lips, who deals with the translation of copy. It has undoubtedly made enormous progress in the past years. The biggest bonus which as a matter of fact seems to attract more and more users by the day is, that the biggest online players, such as Google Translate or DeepL, offer their services for free.

But, setting the cost factor aside, are the results of such online machine translation platforms really accurate for your translations? Do they really strike the right note? In this blog post, you will find out, why a machine translation just cannot replace a human translator and why you should always opt for human translation for the translation of your marketing materials and online presence. Here are the 4 advantages of human translation vs machine translation.

3 different kinds of machine translation

In order to understand what really distinguishes human translation vs machine translation and what skills are necessary to deliver accurate and authentic translations that convey your message to your international audience, I have listed the three types of machine translation:

  • Rule-based systems analyse the text to be translated (the source text) and translate it according to programmed language rules. i.e. dictionaries are linked with common terms, linguistic as well as grammatical rules.
  • Static systems are based on existing translations. The system scans the internet for existing translations. These are checked for suitable text passages in the target language and are then used by the system. 
  • Neural systems are the current further development of static systems and represent a new approach. The neural system learns via a large neural network. It is the most advanced method of computer-aided translation and uses artificial intelligence, big data and deep learning. The system continues to learn as it is used and trained.

Different areas of application

According to its design and suitability, each system today has its own areas of application. Rule-based systems, for instance, are used in technical documentation, such as assembly instructions and online help texts, or for traveller ratings in travel portals. 

Statistical systems, on the other hand, are used for example in Google Translate. These programmes require a large data amount as they search for translations of multilingual websites, which then form the basis for the programme. Possible areas of use are help pages of software vendors, travel websites, online shops or news sites.

Neural systems, on the contrary, can be used as the basis for professional translations and can help make the translation process more productive and efficient.

What are the risks of machine translation?

The main risk for the use of machine translation is the protection of your data. If you use publicly available online translation programmes, either online or via app, it is important to understand that all data entered is stored on the providers’ servers. Confidentiality of your data can therefore not be guaranteed.

Another crucial aspect for the quality of a translation is accuracy. The accuracy of machine translations does differ considerably compared to human translation. Unlike a human translator, a machine translation system cannot look at the context of a paragraph and performs a sentence by sentence translation based on the system defaults. As a result, context is disregarded entirely and, thus, translation errors are guaranteed.

If website operators rely on free services such as Google Translate or DeepL, the sole intention should be to gain an overall idea of the contents. A conscious decision to save costs before quality was made here. This inaccuracy may be acceptable to some people in exchange for convenience and cost. When the stakes are higher, as in business, law or medicine, a machine translation often falls behind the expertise and professionalism of a human translator.

What constitutes a good translation?

A number of aspects need to be taken into account for the translation of your text. What is the purpose of the document to be translated, the field or the client itself? Are you an expert in your niche, is your document a marketing text that is intended for publication or do you come from a specific field? Then a confident appearance in the desired language is extremely necessary for addressing the relevant audience professionally.

“Translation is that which transforms everything so that nothing changes.”

– Günter Grass

Taking a closer look at the supposedly higher cost factor for a professional human translation is definitely worthwhile. Did you hire a professional copywriter to write your original copy because you want to appear professional and convincing to your audience? Then the same level of professionalism should be applied to the English to German translation of the copy, because a bad impression caused by poorly translated marketing materials or a specialist text can have a massive negative impact on your international success in the long run.

In addition, a good translator translates into his or her mother tongue and usually specialises in a particular field. Consequently, he or she is familiar with the industry and has the necessary terminology. Clarity of the source text, which is a prerequisite for machine translation, and thus the creative limitation, does not apply to a professional translator. The recognition of ambiguity, the application of linguistic nuances and context consideration are striking arguments for a human translation. In addition, the translator adheres to the tonality and wording in the original text and combines this with a certain degree of creativity. In this way the translation becomes a text that does not sound like a translation, but as an original text that was written in that language.

The 4 proven advantages of human translation vs machine translation at a glance:

The 4 proven advantages of human translation vs machine translation

No good translation without context

There’s no doubt that Google Translate and the likes have their place. As a quick translation tool it can serve a multitude of purposes, such as a quick translation that merely aims at getting the gist of a text in a foreign language and that is intended for internal use only. The translation results are fairly decent. However, the quality of these online providers is not sufficient for a confident international appearance. Rather the opposite is the case.

Machine translation simply lacks the nuances of human communication. But in order to build a relationship with your international audience and make the text sound natural and authentic, you should always go for a human translator.