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Computerized Translation vs. Human Translation

Why is there a need to have human translators in our day and age considering all the other options available? There are software programs and online sites that offer quick and easy translations. Do they do as good as a job?

Personally I do not feel that the other options available come close to a translation done by a person. Several times we have been given a document that someone has “translated” online, that they have asked us to check for its accuracy, and we have had to basically start from scratch to make an intelligible translation. It probably would have been better if they would have come to us first, and let us do the translation off of the original document, because to try to correct a mechanically done translation normally ends up being double work.

Language is a living organism that continues to grow, change and adapt. Double meanings, connotations, and jargon within a language, which consistently changes from generation to generation. cannot be detected by a machine. Take the term “wife-beater” for instance. Could a computer understand that it may be referring to a type of undershirt? The use of this term may cause misunderstanding if not translated correctly.

Are sayings such as “between a rock and a hard place” and “kill two birds with one stone” identical in another language? Would someone who speaks another language understand the connotation? These things are important know if one wants to accurately translate a document. How about the word “lead”? Is it the metal? Or, is it the act of guiding others in a certain direction? Would a computer program be able to determine which should be used? Considering all the many variables within any language, a human being is still the best choice when there is a need for something to be translated.

I have seen many items in stores that the information on the package has been translated from English to Spanish and it has been easy to tell which were done with a computer program and which have been done by a person. I particularly liked one product that instead of translating the information just included a paragraph that basically said, “If you don’t understand what is said on this label find someone who can so that they can explain it to you”!

On the box of a microwave, the phrase “this end up” was translated as if the word “end” was referring to finishing something – as in coming to the end of a race, etc. More than likely they just plugged these words into an online translator and that was what came out on the other side – I hope.

Even a person that is a native speaker of either the primary or secondary language may have limitations with some of the terms in the langauge which is not their own. This is where my wife and I have an advantage. She is a native Spanish speaker and I am a native English speaker. Because of having that background, we have been able to translate documents that accurately convey in the secondary language what was written in the primary language.

If you are in the need of having documents translated, my advise to you would be to seek someone to do it for you. otherwise, you may not end up with the results that you had hoped for, and end up going to someone anyways to help fix the mess caused by a machine. We are here to help if you happen to be in such a need.

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