Is Human Translation a Dying Profession?

Over the last decade, the world has witnessed many technological advances. Artificial Intelligence (AI) now dominates various industries, including medical, scientific, engineering, media, entertainment, etc. The human translation industry has also faced advances such as computer-assisted translation and translation memories.

However, although AI has changed the translation industry considerably, one threat this industry faces comes from machine translation.

But is the human translation industry at risk of dying? Are translators and interpreters at risk of losing their jobs in the future? Most importantly, is the profession of translation going toward extinction? Let us find out the main factors likely to affect the end of the translation industry.

Artificial Intelligence and Translation Industry

Some of the world’s renowned companies launched free online translation tools a few years ago. They claimed that by doing so, they were offering a more efficient service than ever before. The neural machine translation solutions “learn” based on artificial intelligence tools and based on trained neural networks.

The online translation tools use technologies built on computer-assisted learning and neural networks. However, the artificial intelligence behind the new machine translation engines is more powerful than its competitors. The reason is that a neural network’s efficiency depends on the learning material’s quality, not quantity.

Even when the neural machine translation (NMT) tools can only handle a limited number of languages, they can provide the best grammar, structure, and meaning translation. Additionally, supercomputers can translate millions of pieces of information in real-time.

However, even if neural machine translation produces more natural sentences, some errors and misinterpretations still need to be corrected. Technical documentation shows the strength of such translation tools regarding punctuation, sentence structures, and tenses. However, a document containing specific technical vocabulary, such as medical files, still needs accuracy and fluidity to catch up to human translation. It means an agency providing medical translation services can still deliver more accurate results than machine translation.

Machine Translation: Benefits and Limitations

Why is Machine Translation Beneficial?

The apparent advantages of machine translation are that it is cheap and fast. It is almost instantaneous compared to human translation, which can translate around 2000 words per day. Additionally, while human translators charge a fair amount for translating these words, machine translation is completely free.

Document Translator is a machine translation app created by Microsoft to avail of the benefits of speed and cost offered by machine translation. Machine translation is accessible at all times and can provide a vast range of language combinations.

This technology may be beneficial, but it is essential to consider that neither Microsoft nor any other leading company suggests using it for client communications. Machine translation does not help translate various subjects, such as advertising, websites, technical documentation, or legal papers.

The Limitations of Machine Translation

Although machine translation has seen significant progress, this technology is still in its infancy. Therefore, it is hard to imagine that machine translation can completely replace human translation in the future.

Although speed and affordability are some of the most significant advantages of machine translation, machine translation fails to completely grasp the desired effect of using a specific word. In addition, machine translation needs more text fluidity and is sometimes incomprehensible, owing to the inadequately phrased sentences they contain.

Even though machine translation acts like an effective decoding tool, it cannot “read between the lines” and highlight important details. Whether it concerns getting engineering translation or video translation services, machine translation needs help understanding the nuances of the original content.

Why Can Automatic Translation Platforms not Replace Human Translation?

Before automatic translation took over the world of translation, human translation had long existed. However, human translation is a more intuitive tool regarding creativity, precision, and attention to detail. Automated translation platforms cannot distinguish between words with different meanings or grammatical structures with double meanings. It is because they need help understanding the theme or cultural context of the source content.

In the case of specialized content, it is recommended not to use automatic translation tools. The reason is that the content of technical documents is particularly complex, and any translation errors can have dire consequences. These errors ultimately lead to requests for clarification and fixing, increasing the costs of translations. It remains a fact that these technologies cannot replace human translation as they cannot match the terminology research carried out by a human translator.

Key Takeaway

The creativity of a translator is an added value that a client looks for in a translation. Only a human can infuse that creativity into the translated text. Moreover, while translation agencies aim to deliver translations that contain homogenous and consistent terminology, only a human translator can guarantee that consistency. Although translation by a machine may seem accurate at first glance, a professional human translation is different. Consequently, human translation is not at risk of going extinct in the present or future.

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