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Why Machine Translation Doesn’t Live Up to Its Expectations

Machine translation seems like a great idea. You can use a single widget to translate your content into many different languages. It’s quick and there are many free tools you can use to translate and engage your clients internationally. Sounds great, right? The problem is that machine translation has a low level of accuracy and consistency. These mistakes can be detrimental to your business.

Machine Translation Isn’t a Replacement to Human Translation

Even though machine translation is evolving, it will never be able to make the neural connections that a human can make through learned skills and professional experience. Humans can learn about new words, dialects, idioms, and puns. All of these are variations that affect the way we communicate effectively. Machine translation is not able to pick up on these differences, it mostly translates word for word. Which is why machine translation isn’t reliable and often comes with many mistakes.

Why Machine Translation Isn’t Effective

     Language isn’t dead, it's always evolving. A great example of this is the German dictionary DUDEN, which votes on a new youth word every year to add to its next volume. New words are always being added to the dictionary and only humans can keep up with these trends in culture.

     Niche-related topics have their own lingo. Each industry has its own terminology that is only learned through experience. Machine translation doesn’t understand the lingo that applies to each niche. These words can be translated incorrectly, giving the content a completely different meaning.

     Local connotations. Computer software might not know that there are differences in language based on local dialects. An example of a local connotation is the German word “Wellness”, which actually translates into “spa or relaxation and leisure” in English. You can see where this could be translated incorrectly by a computer program.

     Context is key. Machine translation doesn’t consider the way words are used in context to form coherent ideas. When you use software to translate your content, it might not make sense to the reader. Words end up being taken out of context and it can change the meaning of your content.

     Literal translations don’t always make sense. Humans can tweak different parts of your content that might not have the same literal translation in different languages. Machine translation is not able to find alternative phrases in these instances.

Can Machine Translation Really Save You Time and Money?

If you are trying to save money, you might think that you can use free widgets. However, without editing the translated content you can lose out on business. Your clients are going to be put off by unprofessional writing and inaccurate translations. In order to fix this, you will need to hire a human to proofread and edit the content that was machine translated.

Your savings will be minimal after hiring an experienced proofreader, and you will have to wait for them to finish correcting all of the mistakes. Instead of saving money, you could end up losing out because customers leave your site. In the end, it isn’t worth it, especially when you could have paid for a human translation from the start.

Final Takeaway

Machine translation seems to be the next big thing when different tools and widgets boast their free and fast translation services. However, free is not always the best choice. When your business is on the line, you want to use high-quality human translation.

Machine translation comes with many limitations resulting in low-quality and inaccurate results. This makes your business look like a low-budget, unprofessional operation, which customers are more likely to avoid. So even though you think you will save time and money, you can lose out in the long run. If you value your business and care about your brand image, opt for human translation.

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