Professional translation world has changed. The major improvement in translation machines such as Google Translate, Yandex Translate, Bing Translator, etc in recent years has brought our modern world to a new level.
In Tottori, Japan, a newly tested machine installed in taxis will help passengers to communicate directly with taxi drivers in Japanese. As of December 2015, English, Chinese, and Korean languages are supported by the system, which uses smartphones attached to the passenger and driver sides to translate and relay messages.
At Tokyo’s Narita Airport, the speech translation system Megahonyaku, a mash-up of the words Megaphone and Honyaku (meaning translation), is being tested to help stranded tourists during bad weather or other situations. This will enable a speaker to speak Japanese into a microphone, while the speech translation system automatically transmits the message into three languages, English, Chinese and Korean, within one to two seconds.
Technology is also advancing to real-time. The ubiquitous Google Translate’s attempt to provide real time translation enables a user to point their camera at a sign or piece of text and see the translated text overlaid on their screen, while Skype offers real time voice translation after decades of work in speech recognition, automatic translation and machine learning technologies.
All of these technological improvements are a leapfrog in aiding human communication, and obviously require an enormous amount of investment in both technology and budget.
Does this mean the end of the need for a professional human translator?
While machine translation does increase the speed of translation, these are based on a series of preset formulas and syntax. To help understand this, the link below is a little behind-the-scenes of how Google Translate operates.
Machine translation works best with text that does not have a varying local context, have a definite pattern in its text and does not require a lot of styling in writing. This means that for certain languages that have a different cultural context depending on demographic information such as age, gender or education level (like in Japanese or Korean translation), as well as idioms (like in Chinese translation), additional formulas and syntax need to be added for the machine to recognize these complexities in language clearly. It is not impossible, but it does require a massive amount of investment to make it happen, and to be versatile enough to follow the development of the language.
This means that machine translation works well for basic translation, with a predictable vocabulary as well as less styling requirements, where a degree of tolerance is required from both the speaker and listener to understand the meaning conveyed.
Human translation, on the other hand, through a unique cognitive interpretation built from years of experience and local knowledge, is more adept at expressing the feelings and nuances embedded in text. We have a distinct ability to choose appropriate words to express any situation, and have it read smoothly.
Consider book translations, where another language needs to convey all the nuances and emotional context, or even humor that was described beautifully in the original language.
Or consider the usage in corporate material, where accuracy with essence is necessary to convey the details of the message across correctly and in an easy to understand way.
You may also want to avoid translation blunders in your marketing materials, such as when HSBC had to spend millions of dollars to fix its “Assume Nothing“ campaign. While the tagline worked well in the US, it was translated to “Do Nothing” in many countries overseas.
Why Is It Relevant to Me?
These examples demonstrate why you should want all of your highly sensitive documents, especially those that carry your company’s identity or liability such as marketing materials, legal documents, websites, all the way to customer service messages to be taken care of by professional human translators. This will ensure your materials are free from grammatical and styling errors, filled with the necessary punchy vocabulary, adept to local and demographic context, as well as highly consistent in its professional terminology.
We’ll be happy to help you with your unique translation needs, according to your content, timeline and budget, just contact us directly!