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Machine Translation: A Real Threat to Qualified Professional Translators?

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Machine translation can be a very useful tool, but can it replace translation services? The simple answer is no. While it is true that it is useful and helps to speed up the work, it does not provide a professional result by itself.

We could say that it will help you if you want to understand a sentence or look up a word, but when it comes to producing a well-translated text, you will have to resort to a professional translation company. Let’s see why.

Machine translation and expert translation services: enemies or allies?

You don’t have to see machine translation as a threat to industry professionals. The first thing we need to clarify is that translating is not simply exchanging one word in one language for another in another language in the literal sense. What a professional does goes further: they understand the context, convey a message, and take into account cultural aspects and the audience to which the text is addressed. On the other hand, consider all the words that can be translated in many different ways, and a professional will know what the best option is. This is something that no machine translation software is able to do to this day.

Now, does this mean that we have to completely reject what these tools do? Not necessarily. We must simply not take the result of machine translation as the finished translation. This doesn’t mean that the translator can’t use it as a tool in their work. You can translate a sentence with a machine translation tool, but the result will probably be far from perfect. What an expert does is take it only as a suggestion and then make the necessary adjustments and adapt it to the context.

A way to save time and lower costs

Machine translation can be used as a complement to the translation work. With the help of this tool, the work may get done faster, and so, since the translator works fewer hours on a project, costs also go down.

It’s important for you to consider, however, that professional translation services will always be above machine translation tools. There’s no shortage of examples showing how such online translators often fail. This is why it’s absolutely essential for you to hire an expert to review the text taking into account aspects that machine translation simply is not able to take into consideration.

So, does machine translation pose a threat to industry professionals? No: while it’s normal to be afraid that a machine might be able to automate a person’s work, this is not our reality. An online translator literally translates sentences from one language to another but lacks the ability to interpret, which is what a qualified expert can do. Therefore, we mustn’t view machine translation as a threat or an enemy, but rather as a complement that can be used, while keeping in mind that it is not foolproof.

You now understand that machine translation is not a substitute for professional services. Contact our translation agency to hire an expert.

This post is also available in: Español (Spanish) Français (French) Nederlands (Dutch)