Human vs Machine - Translation Showdown

Human vs Machine - Translation Showdown

In this fast-paced modern world where an explosion of technology is happening every day, many people are wondering if computers will soon replace the need for human beings. While it might seem like machines are taking over the world, there's no doubt that the human touch is still needed. One place where this is clear is in the field of translation. When a human translator went up against Google Translate application to take on the same set of tasks, the human clearly did the better job. Translators don't need to find a new line of work just yet.

It's in the Nuances

An experienced translator and Google Translate were both required to translate two pieces in Spanish. One was a Spanish marketing document from the National Beekeeping Council based out of Argentina. The other was a sample of Spanish audio. The goal was to translate both examples into English. In both cases, it was the nuances, inflections, and figurative meanings that were lost by the computerized software. While Google Translate did an adequate job with the document, it still left something to be desired. The translation was literal, not as polished as that of the human translator, and the software fared poorly when there were irregularities in grammar. Spelling issues could throw off Google Translate as well. In contrast, the human translator was able to look at the entire document, understand its context and the intended audience, and go on to provide a translation that was truly in keeping with the document's original intent.

It Takes Two for a Conversation

When it came to the audio translation, here is where the marked difference could be seen and the computer software's weaknesses became more evident. The human translator could actually capture the true meaning of the audio selection and translate it in such a way as to sound authentic. Google Translate managed to provide a translation that was adequate. However, it would plug in words that sounded like nonsense when the application did not grasp a particular phrase or idiomatic expression. The translation of a computer application did not flow as smoothly or sound as authentic as the translation from an actual person.

Humans Win This Round

Based on this comparison, it is clear that human translators have an advantage over Google Translate. The computer application is ideal for anyone in a pinch when they need a quick translation. For professional purposes, a translation service that is staffed by competent linguists is definitely the best way to go. Human beings will be able to account for personalities, emotions, and background information to provide a translation that goes beyond the literal to get to the deep, underlying meaning.

Human vs Machine - Translation Showdown - Infographic


Ashley Harris is an Outreach Coordinator from Connect Theory who is working closely with Verbal Ink on the content development & refinement.
More posts by: Ashley Harris

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