Thanks to the tower of babel, communication has evolved into 7,097 languages today. Words can now travel worlds. But ultimately, translation does the driving. Language is power. The revolutionary innovation of online translators has come a long way since the first bi-language machine in the 1950s. With just a simple internet connection and a smart mobile device, anybody can speak and write less spoken languages such as Estonian, Xhosa or Galician.
By tearing down the barriers of language, communication hurdles are surpassed. This contributes to the concept of a shrinking world. Here, we discuss the benefits and pitfalls of online translators and compare them to human translators. This article will help you to decide which would be a better choice for your needs.
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How Online Translators Work
In general, online translators are multilingual machines that transform text into another language. Current advanced algorithms can even detect certain tonal patterns and recognize the nature of your document. Online translators such as Google use English as a base. This means that your input first gets transcribed into English, then to your designated language.
The limits of language are the limits of your world. There is a myriad of legit, free translators such as DeepL Collins and translate.com. Amongst all, Google Translate is deemed the most ubiquitous. With 500 million users and 103 languages available, it is even used by even the European Government and the United Nations. To give you a better picture, the 100 million words it translates per day, roughly stacks up to 128,000 bibles!
The Perks of Online Translators
Most online translators are cost-free and highly accessible. For business or pleasure, they are a godsend solution that provides instantaneous translations. Below are some reasons why we deem them the bee’s knees!
A smile knows no language barriers, but it simply isn’t enough in the business world. Online translators are user-friendly and useful for converting languages for casual communication. Speaking in one’s mother tongue is inherently comforting. Naturally, offering to converse in another’s native language is usually appreciated. Whether you’re extending an olive branch or sending a corporate email to another continent, it shows your genuine effort to connect. As such, online translators can help build a rapport that can improve relationships.
Tapping into New Markets
Thinking of globalizing your home-grown brand? The European Business Review quotes that localization is key to successful global outreach. Localization demonstrates the genuine attention and care of your brand to its consumers. Speaking the market’s language will undeniably up your appeal game. Employ the use of online translators are a great help. However, do make sure to check in with a native speaker on your final content. This leaves no chances for embarrassing mistranslations that can compromise your brand’s reputation. It would be a catastrophe if they ended up as ridicule on the internet!
Regardless of whether you’re translating recipes or asking for directions, online translators have become paramount to everyday life situations. It is also a conducive tool for learning new languages.
To make things even easier, Google’s interface also works with images and speech. That in addition to the conventional text input used by most online translators. These functions do wonders in speeding up translations. They also make navigating unfamiliar foreign keyboards unnecessary for text input.
Sharing Cultures and Ideologies
The Bible alone has been translated to a total of 698 languages! Cultures are the guide to people’s interactions. Translation for the use of politics, military, religion or beliefs is key to bridging people. Online translators might provide huge assistance, but much attention must be paid to accuracy. The translation is therefore not only a technical and interpretation of one language to another. It is part of a colossal measure in connecting people from one side of the world to the other.
The Major Pitfalls of Online Translators
English is an awfully funny language! It’s an irony that sayings such as “a slim chance”, and “a fat chance” can mean the same thing. Every language has it’s own saying and quirks, but not all that can be rightfully captured by online translators. Here are some pitfalls to consider:
Online translators ruin satire, sarcasm, and rhetoric with literal translations. Satire and sarcasm are low forms of wit but high forms of creativity and intelligence that can only be expressed by the human mind. They frequently get lost in translation.
In addition, every language has a different grammar structure. Take for example that the Chinese language has only one grammatical form. In Mandarin, sentences are also structured with a different word order from other languages. Because of such characteristics, it is deemed one of the five hardest languages in the world to learn. It’s ranked amongst Hebrew, Arabic, Korean and Japanese. The below illustrates a case of a literal translation. While the gist of the message is correct, the phrase is transformed unnaturally in English.
Butchered Poetry and Idioms
Dripping in symbolism and metaphors, idioms and poetry are the most difficult text forms to translate. Online translators cannot comprehend context or culture. Most poems consist of distinctive grammar and similarly pronounced sounds. These elements form the rhythm and rhyme of a poem. As such, the same words might sound different in your target language. This scrambles things up and destroys flow and eloquence. Spanish and Italian languages demonstrate such challenges. While it is easy to rhyme the many words that end with an “–o”, such couplets are difficult to reconstruct in another language.
Some idioms originate from a specific culture or native fable. They might contain some components of cultural influences or native colloquial. An equivalent translation into another language can prove challenging. With the lack of context in online translators, the translation might end up not making any sense. The original figurative romanticism and thought-evoking expressions are thus irrecoverably lost.
A published journal on humanities noted that many military conflicts are the result of improper communication. It hypothesizes that insensitive translators might attribute to miscommunication. Machines are often rigid and lack the capability to replicate style or tone. At times, transposed words end up sounding offensive or inappropriate. In delicate conflicts where communication should be delivered with the utmost sensitivity, it’s best to rely on the tact of human translators over online ones.
Robots can be consistent but they aren’t perfect. Just last year, a bizarre glitch happened with Google Translate. The repeated input of “dog” for twenty times resulted in a religious and apocalyptical doomsday message. Creepy as it is, there has been more than one instance. This, of course, has been fixed by Google now. Though, much speculation still lingers on its cause. Was it a prank by a disgruntled employee, or did Google’s neural machine pick up the pattern of repetitive words to cause a hallucinated output?
The take away is that if it happens once, it could happen again. We require translation because we don’t speak a language. Using online translators create a risk as we fall short of the capability to check if the results are correct and appropriate.
Some languages such as German are inevitably lengthy. A word in English might be translated into three or more in order to capture the same meaning in Deutsch. On the other hand, French makes for a shorter word count. The book “The Pen Commandments” has a total of 500,000 words in English but became fewer than 100,00 words when transposed in French.
In the world of advertising where cost is determined by space and time, word count plays a considerably important factor. Text expansion from translation also affects design. If you face such struggles with your print collateral or web content, it might be time to hire a professional translator who can capture the same message with a limited number of words.
Why Use Human Translators?
Charles Baudelaire once said, “To handle a language skillfully is to practice a kind of evocative sorcery.” A good translation transforms everything but changes nothing. While machines are frequently cost-free and fast, there is a level of consciousness, intelligence, and wit that simply cannot be replaced by them. Here are some reasons on how human translation triumphs over machines. All with the assumption that you’ve hired a proficient one!
Good translation requires judgment on whether to adopt a literal transposal of words or maintain a figurative one. Online translators can easily achieve the first but fall short in acumen on the latter.
In contrast, the human mind can establish the right intent of words. For example, the word “light” has different meanings in the English language. An online translator may adapt the noun instead of the intended adjective in some cases. As convenient as they are, accuracy ultimately still needs a human touch. Professional translators also tend to take time in reviewing their work which ensures quality.
Without factoring context, paraphrasing in another language can go terribly wrong. Often, the price of redemption can be costly or even irreversible. In the world of marketing, metaphors, slogans, and puns often only make sense with human translation. They require a smidgen of creativity to make the translation work. As said, human translators don’t do words, they do a language. Possessing intuitive perception and strong linguistic skills, professional translators have the ability to rephrase and maintain the same intent in a different language when required. Where literal messages aren’t possible, they will substitute the phrase with the most suitable alternative.
Despite a longer turnaround time, you can feel more assured that a professional will get the job done right. The ability to apply appropriate words and phrases in transcribing concepts, deciphering meaning, and rephrasing expressions in another language is irreplaceable. It makes conscious translation far more valuable than the literal word-for-word done by online translators.
Penetrating new business markets? Technology most certainly cannot comprehend cultures or local colloquial, but translators who speak the native language can. No matter if you are translating a website, email or brochure, your customers should not be able to detect any trace of translations being made.
Translation is the process of substituting the words from one language to another. Localization, however, might encompass some modifications so as to appeal to the local market. Hiring a native speaker from the region for translations can help you go beyond primitive word for word translation. He or she should be able to depict the same nuance in a diction that resonates with the local market. For purposes of SEO, you can even request for your translator to maintain certain keywords in the designated language.
When to Use What
If you need translation for official or publicized material, its best to invest in a professional translator. Hiring a professional translator is not necessarily expensive. There are competent and affordable translators who can get the job done within a short time. That inclusive of high-quality work riding on a money-back guarantee. If you’re diving deep in marketing plans, you might also be looking into advertising. Hiring high-performing native voice actors to record your audio ads can ensure a professional outcome. Simply choose your designated language and voice, and provide a script.
The long-running debate on machine versus human is never-ending. If you’re still in contemplation, here are some tips that can help you decide.
When to Use an Online Translator
- If general meaning is enough.
- When you do not require pristine accuracy.
- For material does not reach the masses.
- Managing a tight deadline on bulk translations done. It’s important to review them later with a professional.
- When you’re making casual conversation and the other party is aware that you don’t speak the language.
When to Use a Professional Translator
- For marketing materials that reach consumers, such include packaging, email or brochures.
- In delicate situations where you require some form of mediation.
- When accuracy is of utmost importance.
- For translations required for official uses such as legal, medical documentation.
- Opting for a native speaker to inject a touch of creativity to reach a local audience.
The Final Decision
In the end, your decision depends on three main criteria. They are your time frame, need for accuracy and budget. Both online translators and human translators deserve a place in the world. With different capabilities and benefits, they play very different roles. But with the enhancements of technology every year, who knows? Online translators might one day catch up with the human mind!
Start your translation today here in Bunny Studio!