The future of translation is bright

Despite the promise of fast and cheap translation, automated translation technology or machine translation has not yet managed to replace human translation, i.e. translation from one language to another, using professional, human translators. Will it ever? What does the future of translation look like? The consensus is that the future of translation is bright, mainly because advances in automated translation actually help to improve the speed of translation, delivering lower prices and lower costs to those who need the services of a translation agency.

Offering competitive prices is the key to a successful translation business

The translation business is like any other business. Each translation agency or individual translator is aware that they exist in a competitive environment. The cost of translation is partly dependent on the actual language pairs to be translated and the complexity of the text, but ultimately it is a factor of the time taken to complete an accurate translation. When translation work is costed, invariably the most important factor is the cost per word. This may go up or down because of subject matter and language pairs, but anything that can drive down how long it takes to reduce the time to translate will obviously be an automatic advantage compared to any competition. The caveat is that if reducing time to translate is accompanied by poorer or more inaccurate copy, then this will probably lead to the business closing down as unhappy clients take their work elsewhere. So, how can automatic translation slash the time to translate without reducing accuracy?

Automated translation is the new standard

Translation itself has no doubt been around ever since the technology to print text was developed. Some of the first texts that were printed were religious documents including the Christian Bible. This was translated into many other languages from the original Greek and Latin. The actual skills in human translation haven’t really changed a lot ever since then, although computer technology and aids like spell and grammar checking have certainly helped to reduce the work involved. What is definitely going to reduce the time to accurately translate a text in the future is automated technology although, as has already been alluded to, advances in machine technology have not yet been able to completely avoid using a human translator.

What is automated translation/machine translation?

Automated or machine translation is not a thing of the imagination. It already exists. In fact the search to invent a serious contender to human translation has been on for decades. At first, simple machine translation concentrated on word for word or literal translation. However, even with language pairs that are very closely related such as Spanish and Portuguese, this does not provide very accurate results. For languages that are far less closely related, the early technology was totally unreliable, although at times humorous.

These days, powerful text crunching software is much better than ever, but still doesn’t replace the human brain. Examples of the failures of totally relying on machine translation tools (like Google Translate) are legion. However, this doesn’t mean they are useless. Combined with a professional translator, the use of automated technology is certainly key to a brighter translation future.

What are the benefits of automated translation?

The main benefit of automated translation is that huge chunks of text can be rapidly processed into a rough or crude version of the original in another language. This can be done in seconds rather than the hours that it might take a human translator. This rough copy can then be improved and refined by the human translator so that it becomes as accurate as if it had been handled by the same human right from the start, but in a much shorter time. Again, as long as accuracy is not compromised, this combination of machine translation and human refining will result in much faster translation completion timing and reduced costs for the client.

Human translation versus automated translation – the future of translation is part human, part machine!