Monday, July 6, 2020

Why You Shouldn’t Rely On Machine Translation by Emma Collins

Faster and cheaper – these are the two key advantages of machine translation. Technology has enabled us to rely on machines to translate heaps of information all at once. However, there are still several downsides to the service. For one, accuracy isn’t always on point, which is where human translation comes in.

The Shortcomings of Machine Translation

However promising machine translation is, there are still several types of document that probably won't be translated perfectly. Here are some examples.

Medical Documents

Medical documents like dossiers, user guides, and research protocols require the utmost care when translating. After all, it could be a matter of life or death. Medical reports must be translated accurately. Unfortunately, machine translation can't guarantee that.

One of the pitfalls of machine translation is its over-literal translation. Since there can be a lot of medical jargon in documents, the context can be hugely important and you need to get every term right.

Speed is also an important factor. Although human translators translate at a slower rate, they can ensure that the proper meaning is retained.

Legal Documents

Legal documents are usually highly confidential so using free machine translation tools can be too risky. Free translation services like Google Translate or Bing Translator store the text you input to improve performance. Although this is a legitimate reason, this can pose a threat to your data privacy. Legally binding contracts, for example, should never be run through these tools.

Using free machine translators can seem cost-effective at first but the mistakes can be expensive. It’s better to put your trust in professional translators who can keep sensitive information safe.

Immigration Documents 

Machine translation is not consistent across different languages and immigration documents often contain specific content that may not be easily translatable to certain languages. Machine translation also does not offer any understanding of cultural references that can be integral to your immigration documents.

Moreover, birth certificate translation requires careful analysis of the different formats of birth certificates. For example, if you want to translate your birth certificate in the US, you need to adhere to the rules of the United States Customs and Immigration Service (USCIS). They have a rigid set of rules that you need to consider if you want to have a smooth immigration process.

These nuances are considered by human translators as they always seek advice from professionals.

Marketing Materials

Translations should not only convey information but also emotion. Although machine translation could work with technical content, it cannot be used for marketing.

Advertising and other marketing strategies are directed towards humans. Effective marketing aims to persuade and this is usually done by evoking emotional responses to change people’s behavior. Machine translation fails to convey nuance.

If marketing content is produced by machine translation, the editorial touch could be lost and it won’t be effective. Being too literal in your approach rarely succeeds and slogans and taglines work because it creates an effective call-to-action that's aimed at humans. As such, you have to leave it to marketers and human translators.

Financial Documents

Financial documents like financial statements, SEC filings, and business correspondence, follow a certain format to comply with different regulations. Outside the format, these documents also require an extensive understanding of the specialized language of global trade and financial reporting.

Financial documents contain several figures that machine translation can’t comprehend. Hence, you need to find people who can grasp the relevance of these figures. What does it mean to have "x amount of sales"?  Financial documents are often written with insights that machine translation can’t capture.

Lastly, you also need to consider the readability of your documents. Even if you were successful in translating your financial documents, you also need to ensure that it can be understood by your readers.

Machine Translation Efficiency

Machine translation has gained popularity because of its efficiency. However, efficiency doesn't always translate to accuracy.

In any document, accuracy is always a priority and is paramount to almost any type of service. A single translation error can lead to serious consequences. Although still imperfect, human translators could offer context and understanding that can produce a more reliable translation.

Emma Collins is a creative thinking content creator who specializes in blogging and copywriting. You can find her on Twitter.