Is There a Place for Machine Translation in Business?

Five years ago, the answer might have been “definitely no”. However, since then artificial intelligence has made significant inroads into business writing. You may be surprised to know how many articles machines generate on Huffington Post and Harvard Business Review.

Naturally, a human tidies them up afterwards, but the spadework is already done. Similar technology is evolving in the translation industry. Hence, it is best to understand the mix we require, before we contact a company specialized in document translation services.

Striking the Right Balance before Contacting a Translator

Human effort comes at a cost. If we can find a machine to do the heavy lifting, we save money and time. This is especially true for translation, because unlike original writing the content of the document is already set.

However, we do need to find a company specializing in document translation services with a thorough approach. This may mean comparing the original and translation line by line, as opposed to simply tidying up the latter. Here are a few examples of what I mean by this.

Product Descriptions for Internet Catalogues

E-Traders with hundreds of items are more interested in cost than exemplary grammar. Much of their content is there to meet Amazon/eBay requirements. Besides, shoppers are more likely to want to know what comparison sites say. Therefore, a tentative thumbs up for machine translation here.

Product Descriptions for High Tech Industries

However, if I were a nuclear power station operator to cite an extreme case, I would not recommend letting a machine loose on critical procedures. The words “must,” “should,” “may,” and “might” can be mission critical. Therefore, I would contact a company specialized in document translation services in this instance.

What about Marketing Copy and General Business Translation?

Yes, those are two good examples where a blend of machines and human translation provides the best mix. Any multinational corporate will see the sense of mass machine translation into multiple languages. However, I would ask a translator fluent in the destination language to cast an eye over the result and comment.

Things Are Seldom Black or White, Including in Translation

The third dimension to the decision is, of course, cost. I would love a Ferrari but I settle for a Toyota because it gets me there, albeit it at the loss of privilege. Professional translators understand the cost dilemma and always do their best to find the right balance.

Hence I recommend you contact a company specialized in document translation services that understands the potential, and the limitations of machine translation.

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