Language Cogs and Wheels: Machine Translation for Businesses

cogsWithout a doubt, using a human translator is the definite best way to make sure that your company’s content is translated properly and well. Machine translators are certainly no replacement for the human touch, but that doesn’t mean that machine translation has no purpose. Let’s talk about what machine translation looks like today and what businesses are doing with this technology.

What Kind of Translation Does Your Business Need?

Let’s make one point very clear: machine translators are in no way putting human translators out of business. In fact, the opposite is true. High quality translations are absolutely necessary when writing versions of your content for different languages. In these cases, there is no substitute for a competent, professional human translator.

Envisioning a Future With Machine Translation

Sometimes, however, hiring a human translator is not necessary and may slow down your overall process – not to mention the cost. In these cases, a machine translator may be the way to go. These machines are getting smarter and smarter. Circumstances where you may need to speed up communication may require the use of a machine. BBC was able to pioneer an online space last year where various people from all over the world could comment and debate with each other, and they used Google Translate – a free online software – to do it. The translations were certainly far from perfect, but the participants were excited to find that they were able to understand each other more than they had anticipated.

Of course, machine translation has a long way to go before it can be considered comparable to human translation. But for the people behind these programs, making machine translation “as good as” human translation is not just unlikely – it’s simply not desirable.

What this does mean, though, is that the language barriers that did not previously allow businesses to communicate with each other or with multinational consumers are on the verge of being broken down. More and more businesses are entering the global market, and machine translation is becoming critical for these businesses in their attempts to reach an ever-growing audience in real time. Businesses will always need perfect translations, but technology is now becoming the best way to quickly deliver core concepts and information to customers, staff, and partners across numerous language barriers.

Have you ever used machine translation in your business? What kind of experience did you have?

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Tree is a somewhat nomadic graduate student pursuing an MFA in Poetry and Literary Translation from Drew University. A self-identified “diplobrat,” she spent over 16 years living as an expat in countries like Guatemala, Bolivia, and Tanzania. Tree graduated from Smith College in 2012 with a degree in Spanish Language and Literature, a minor in Studio Art, and a concentration in Landscape Studies. In between writing poetry for school and content for CEM, she dabbles in goat herding and freelancing. Other interests include reading, watercolor painting, gardening, and traveling.

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