Business Translation Center

Human versus machine translation - which is right for your business?

by OFER TIROSH 11/10/2017

Artificial intelligence (AI) and neural network translation capabilities have come on a long way in recent years. Even the EU Presidency is now experimenting with AI-powered translation in order to facilitate multilingual communication. However, there’s still a powerful argument for using human translation in a business environment. As such, how do you decide which is the right approach for your company?

Trial and error

One of the best methods is to use the two different services – machine translation and human translation – to translate the same document. This will provide you with a direct comparison between the two in terms of the translation quality. For anything more than a short phrase or sentence, the human will deliver the best quality. This is put to the test each year in the annual human versus AI translation competition

Of course, in a business environment, it may not be only translation quality that counts. When an urgent translation is required, the company may decide to forfeit some degree of quality in order to receive the near-instant results that a machine can deliver. However, speed does come at the expense of linguistic quality and companies need to bear in mind that any customer-facing documents that are poorly worded reflect on the company’s brand and reputation. 

The hybrid approach

Interestingly, some companies are now taking a hybrid approach to translation. They use a machine to undertake the initial work, then engage a professional translation service to edit the translated document. This can help to speed up the overall rate of translation, as well as bring down the cost, which is a combination that many companies are attracted to. As work on developing AI translation tools continues, it is likely that demand for this kind of post editing of machine translation will grow. 

The traditional approach

There will, of course, always be plenty of room for traditional, human translation in the business environment. Companies can’t explain their goals and values to a machine. They can’t expect that machine to provide localization services. They can’t enjoy good, old-fashioned customer service from a machine. Nor can they expect a machine to cope with specialist language, whether it’s medical terms or legal references. Quite simply, there are times when only human translation will suffice!

If you would like to find out more about what professional human translation can do for your business, contact the friendly Tomedes team.