On the surface, machine translation appears to be a cool and efficient way to speed up the rate that documents can be translated, as well as bring down overall costs making it a higher choice in doing certain tasks. However, there are major disadvantages of utilizing this system of translation vs. human translation. Today, we’ll be looking at the shortcomings of machine translation as they stand in 2020 and why you may prefer to use human professionals instead. 

  • Loss of accuracy: Of course, the most important thing about translating any speaker or documents is accuracy. Machines are simply not at a point where they can create perfectly accurate translations on a regular basis. As advanced as the technology may seem to be, it is still prone to error. For proof of this try translating a large amount of text in Google Translate to English and you will see the errors that will be present.
  • Mistakes are sometimes costly: While the cost of machine translation is usually a mere fraction of the cost of human translation, the errors that can be made when using machine translation can be quite costly, depending on what you are having translated. 
  • Poor understating of the parent language: Human translators will often have a clearer understanding of the nuances that are present in other languages. Machine translation cannot deliver the exact meaning of the parent language. 
  • Context may be lost: Humans can interpret context and capture the intended meaning, rather than simply translate words. No machine translation program is able to do this.
  • Usage limitations: Machine translation is sometimes unable to translate from different file formats such as PDF, DOC, .TXT etc. Thus, if someone needs to translate medical reports written in these formats, for example, under this scenario machine language may be useless.

Examples of When to use Human Translation

In other words, there are certain types of situations that simply should not be left for machines to translate. Here is an example of when human translation is the best choice.

  • When accuracy is important
  • Where your translated content is received by a consumer audience
  • When you have a duty of care to provide accurate translations (e.g. legal documents, product instructions, medical guidelines or health and safety content)
  • When translating marketing material or other texts for creative language uses

At the end of the day, it is all about creating the most accurate translation possible. While machine translations may be quicker and less costly upfront, it may mean that you will have to sacrifice accuracy for convenience and that you may have to spend more money to fix any problems that a poor translation can create. Our technical translation services are accurate and thorough. If you need a technical translation or a Spanish translator in Houston, contact us to discuss the details of your project.