Will computer aided document translation services ever take over from human translation? The answer depends partly on the purpose of the translation. Computer aided translation is certainly nowhere near being capable of replacing professional translators for all important purposes at present, but there is no way that this can be said with any certainty about the future. Given the fast pace of technological development, in twenty years, say, you may never even bother asking the question as there might not be any professional translators of the human variety still employed.
Computer-aided translation tools, of which programmes like Google Translate are good examples and probably the best known, are often fine for many amateurs, non-essential purposes. These translation programmes can give the user a ‘gist’ of what something is about when reading a language you don’t understand. Even then, they can be misleading and cause confusion.
Many businesses still try and avoid paying out for professional translation services by overusing Google Translate or a similar tool, but often with comic or downright confusing or even offensive results. It really doesn’t pay off in the long run for any business to try and cut down on translation costs by using computer-aided translation, at least at the present. Poorly translated marketing material leads to poor marketing. Poorly translated business document translation may lead to less business being done, opportunities wasted and a potential expansion into other markets wasted.
Translation experts often compare computer-aided translation with professional translation services like fast food and well-prepared food. Fast food is easy, cheap, fast and freely available. However, it doesn’t do your health any good, especially if you rely on it. You are better off with a balanced diet, prepared with your overall health in mind. Google Translate and its equivalents are the ‘Big Macs’ of the translation industry. They are fine when you are on the move and need a quick translation fix, but for any long-term business health, you need to budget for professional translation.
For businesses still trying to weigh up the pros and cons of computer-aided translation services and professional translation services using human translators, they should recall the old adage “you get what you pay for.”