Machine Translation vs Human Translation: Why the Vs?

Last Updated January 22, 2016


Pause and ask some questions before you reach a conclusion on machine translation vs human translation.

Do you ever walk with just one shoe? Leaving the left foot bare while the right one is donned in slick leather seems out of question, right?

This same logic fails to prevail when you’re debating machine translation vs human translation.

What Distinct Advantage Human Translation Brings: Points to Consider

  1. Will it reach all languages you want to cover, including prospects/categories/geographies?
  2. What about the nuances, cultural references and subtle aspects of a particular dialect or culture?
  3. Can it add value with insights and qualitative factors that only humans are equipped with? Would it bring in the ‘style’?
  4. What would be the competitive differentiator if the same machine or tool is available to my rivals, too?
  5. Does it ensure consistency of those abstract shades that your brand stands for?
  6. Will a machine-translated text ensure the right flow that a given language requires?
  7. Does an algorithm account for structural changes in different languages. Does it also supply tones, undertones, subtexts that a given communication may need?
  8. What if the machine nails the language very well but lets the context slip through the cracks? Shouldn’t a marketing material have a different sound and silhouette than what a plain official correspondence would have?
  9. Who pays for the costly goof-ups that happen when ad-verbatim/word-to-word translations cast havoc on a brand’s reputation in a tricky region or sensitive culture? After all, the same word can have a different meaning or connotation in a different dialect.
  10. Professionals not only bring a native edge to the language but also the kind of treatment that is apt for a given task. Can machines match that?

How Machine Translation complements Human Translation: Points to Consider

  1. Yes, you may have a good army for brand localization experts in those war rooms. But why spend human resource’s time and bandwidth for simple tasks like determining the native language of a given document, or source-to-target translation – all that which algorithms can detect and do automatically?
  2. Why not use statistical engines for what they are worth?
  3. Translation and localization tools are ready and instant to apply when the document or communication in question needs immediate action and not necessarily a precise one: gleaning the gist of a message or informal/casual communication. So why waste human energy there?
  4. Today’s machines are fast, agile and almost real-time for certain tasks and they come across as a cost-effective as well as a time-friendly medium for translation. Why not pair them with the human strengths well?
  5. Sophistication of tools can bring in new levels of speed and multi-lingual communication powers to the portfolio
  6. What if machines could handle the low-quality, high-volume, non-critical tasks of translation and humans can take over for final adjustments or filling in subtle gaps wherever required?
  7. Translation engines can and are being trained by human translators now. What if that can be optimized well?

There’s an argument for for welding both the subtle strengths and delicacy of human translations with the agility and torque of machines.

Machine Translation vs Human Translation: Balancing Cost and Time

Professional, human translation will give you the highest quality work, but it comes at a cost. Purely machine-based translation gets the work done at a much lower rate, but you sacrifice quality in the end.

Machine translation with human quality assurance is where you’re likely to find the balance between quality and cost efficiency.

A combination of MT plus post-editing and crowdsourcing can help achieve lower price points without sacrificing quality or throughput time.

Choose an agency that offers a full-service, well-rounded solution and expertise for your translation needs.

March your brand with the right foot forward. Contact us today to take the first step.

Related Posts

Summa Linguae uses cookies to allow us to better understand how the site is used. By continuing to use this site, you consent to this policy.

Learn More