About The Limitations of Human Translation

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Today we will talk about the limitations of human translation and why sometimes choosing a different translation approach (machine translation or machine translation with human review) might be a better option for your business.

The main reason for any controversy regarding human translation is the fact that many people believe that machine translation should never be compared to human translation.

One aspect of this position is concerned with machines eventually replacing humans, as is the case with many fields previously dependant on humans, while another is pointing out that machines can never achieve the linguistic levels humans are capable of.

Let’s try to skip our fear of becoming slaves to our own creations, and instead, focus on the linguistic reasons humans may sometimes take a back seat to their machine counterparts.

#1. Money

Money makes the world go ‘round and it’s also one of the most notorious limitations of human translation. As with many things in life, money, or rather the preservation of it, is the main reason for trying out new approaches.

Depending on the language combination, the translation of a page of text (approximately 500 words), can cost between 15 and 70 EUR. Machine translation costs a few cents.

The cost margins are enormous, and many of our clients decide to machine-translate content which is not very important (certain pages on websites, content which is used internally, etc.).

If you compare this with the option to have a reviewer check the machine-translated content and amend it, you get a very cost-effective way of translating content.

#2. Time 

Another one of the limitations of human translation is time. After all, it is human to get tired, hungry or sick. Translators simply cannot translate more than a handful of pages a day, while machines can translate whole books in seconds.

The quality of the translation will suffer, of course. Depending on the importance of the source content, however, this may be an acceptable trade-off.

With the approach mentioned earlier, in which a reviewer checks the machine-translated content, companies can get the best of two worlds. A quick, machine-translated draft which is mostly understandable, and human patching up the translation.

 #3. Fit

If you don’t know trusted translators, it will be difficult to find someone who can translate your specific content into other languages. The main constraint is usually finding someone who is familiar with your product and market niches.

Even if you do find this person, they need to fit the budget you have. You also need to set aside your resources and time for finding them.

In many cases, this is simply not worth it, as there is always the risk you will not be satisfied with the translation, even after putting in a lot of effort to make the human translation process work. 

 Find out what best fits your business

We have been using machine translation for a couple of years, and we have seen the limitations of a pure machine-translation approach as well. We know which language combinations will not benefit greatly from it, and we know the potential problems which can arise.

We can easily define the fit, and we can also find the right native speaker to iron out any possible errors in the translation. If you want to learn how your company can benefit from machine translation, feel free to reach out to us!

It will not magically eliminate all the issues you might have, but it can make life easier. After all, if you can save time and money, it is worth trying out. Don’t let the limitations of the human translation stop you from going global!

Gosia
Written By:

Gosia loves copywriting and product translation. Additionally, she's a content marketing and lolcats junkie.

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