Choose Wisely: Human or Machine Translation

The need for professional translations for business needs is growing rapidly due to an increasing number of companies going global. Global reach equals a larger audience, which often leads to more return on investment. These translation needs are often urgent, and finding a translation method that is fast and cheap can be tempting. When considering which type of translation will be best for your needs, you will most likely find yourself with two main options: human translation and machine translation. Deciding which method will work best for your business needs is highly dependent on what you hope to achieve and what budget you are working with. While human translation is often more expensive, it generally yields the most exact results. Both of these methods of translation have their pros and cons, and evaluating which process will work best for you should be based on certain key points.

The Case for Human Translation

With the current rise of machine translation, you can now have a computer instantly translate your source material for a very cost-effective price, but how reliable is it? Users of this technology often experience challenges with word-for-word translation and keeping it in the correct cultural context. Yes, while machine translation may work for a small budget and a shorter, less important source, you often risk offending your target culture with translations that don’t mean the same things in different cultures. The importance of keeping translated material in the correct cultural context is not to be underestimated. Also, machine translation is often not confidential because analytics are often used by companies like Google after translations are completed.

For the purposes of making your source material truly accessible to your international target audience with a tone and context that is consistent with their culture, human translation is often the most effective choice. With human translation, you have the benefit of an actual person translating and reviewing your project and adapting the content to fit the language and norms of your target culture without losing your brand messaging and company tone. Human translation is more authentic because there is less room for error when a professional translator is handling your content.

Human Post-Editing (HPE)

            Human Post-Editing or HPE is another widely used method of translation in which multiple humans review a near final source file that might have been translated by a machine for inaccuracies. When you choose to use both machine translation and HPE, you might find a an acceptable middle ground for your translation needs because of reduced cost and a faster turn around time.

The Takeaway

            If you value quality over quantity for your business translations, you’re not alone. While machine translation might appeal to the impatient consumer, it is often worthwhile to invest in human translation or at least HPE for materials that might be crucial to expanding your company’s global presence and reach. Stay tuned to the Lionbridge onDemand blog for more!

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