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Can Machine Translations Replace Human Translators?

Can Machine Translations Replace Human Translators?

As a business owner, you are always looking to maximise your revenue potential and one way to do this is to reach out to new markets, which may include people who speak different languages. This intrinsically means translating what you are saying into one or more languages. By doing this you will start building trust and demonstrate to potential customers that you as a company understand different cultures and it will also set you apart from your competitors and can even elevate your business globally so that you start creating an international corporate image. However, it’s imperative that you translate your company in a quality way as inaccurate and poorly translated script can actually have a detrimental effect and may turn customers away.

Understanding Leads To More Sales

So would it be worth using a translation machine? It’s certainly true that AI translators are becoming more sophisticated and *studies including one carried out by the economists at MIT and Washington University have shown that businesses can increase sales if people have access to products and services in their native language. The researchers looked at eBay, and saw that sales had been boosted by just over 10%. The report concluded that language barriers greatly hinder trade and that AI has the potential to affect both this and productivity.

Gain A Competitive Edge

It therefore gives your company a distinct advantage if you can reach out to new markets. Language barriers have to be overcome and language translation should be an important investment for your company. If people can understand, it could be very good for business.

• New revenue streams
• Wider customer base
• Build an international presence
• Minimise miscommunications
• Set yourself apart from your competitors
• Show your cultural sensitivity
• Demonstrate localisation

AI Translators Can Do The Job – Can’t They?

So could the human translator be out of a job soon? The above report might lead you to think this but it is interesting to note that by looking at eBay the researchers had picked an established and trusted company rated by Forbes at number 67 of the World’s Most Valuable brands in 2019. So, how reliable are machine translators? If you don’t understand the language you are translating into, how do you know how accurate the machine has been?
In this month’s blog from UK Techtrans, offering technical document, patent and website translation services worldwide, we look at the pros and cons of AI translators and why they might hinder and affect trade and productivity in ways that may not have such positive affects.

Disadvantages Of Machine Translators

• Inaccurate translations
• Poor quality and make little sense
• Deliver word for word translations
• Will not recognise ambiguity or inaccuracies
• Default settings are to the most simple use of grammar and words
• Not culturally sensitive
• Security and data issues

Direct Translation Won’t Work

One huge drawback is inaccurate translation, as the machine will opt for word for word literal translations with no comprehension of metaphors, idioms, colloquialisms or puns. It’s probably therefore unlikely that the target audience will comprehend a direct translation. However, a translator from a translating company will spot if there is an inaccurate or perhaps inappropriate word in the original document and if a word has been omitted. They will also be able to spot the emotion that is to be conveyed in the text.

Your Security Could Be Compromised

A machine cannot be programmed to totally understand the context of how a certain phrase or word is to be used. A machine doesn’t have any creativity, which may be required to bring out the deeper meaning of a phrase or paragraph. With a machine you need to be sure that information security is not compromised and top translation companies will meet International Security Management standards so that your data is kept secure.

What happens if a badly written text is put into the machine? The result will be an equally poor translation painting a poor picture of your business. Technical translations do need to be completely accurate as does a formal letter or medical records for example.

Advantages Of Machine Translators

• Inexpensive
• Variety of programmes available
• Fast translation
• Multiple language translations
• Convenient

Accurate Translation Is A Must

A machine translator is a great tool if you are on holiday and you are looking to ask for directions to a particular place or to order something in a restaurant and to understand the menu. Many of these tools are quite inexpensive to purchase and you will quickly get your translation. However as shown, their advantages are heavily outweighed by their disadvantages and for accurate translation which will portray your company in a professional way and show people that you are company that they should be doing business with, professional translating services are a must and absolutely invaluable.

Significant Progress But A Long Way To Go

Although significant progress has been made with AI and in particular with machine learning (ML) which is more powerful in areas such as speech recognition there is a long way to go.
AI translation tools certainly have their limitations although they can be used to complement professional translators. Language is an art form and words and sentences can’t be looked at in an isolated way as the meaning of a sentence depends on the rest of the paragraph and the whole of the text depends on culture etc.


It does seem that machine translation on its own does still does have a long way to go to compete with a professional language translator. It has its limitations and the technology is still not fit for purpose although machines should work and learn from human translators and at best complement professional translators. Whether it will ever replace the human form is in doubt as translation will always remain an art form without any clear cut or defined rules. Accurate translations will significantly benefit turnover and sales and will bridge the communication barrier so that customer experience is greatly enhanced.

The Expert’s View

Dr Jorge Majfud, Associate Professor of Spanish, Latin American Literature, and International Studies at Jacksonville University explains why consistently accurate language translation has thus far eluded AI:

“The problem is that considering the ‘entire’ sentence is still not enough. The same way the meaning of a word depends on the rest of the sentence, the meaning of a sentence depends on the rest of the paragraph and the rest of the text, as the meaning of a text depends on a larger context called culture, speaker intentions, etc.”

What To Do Next

At UK TechTrans we provide a cost effective, efficient, and thorough service using specialist translators. Each project is allocated to an experienced translator with specialist industry knowledge and who is based in the country of origin ensuring the most accurate translations possible. Also as we are certified to ISO 27001, the Information Security Management standard, you can be sure that all of your data is kept safe at rest and in transit and all who have access to it are under strict non-disclosure and confidentially agreements.

For more information, please contact us today by calling us on +44 (0) 1273 426921 or email or use our contact form.


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