With thousands of languages being spoken in the world today, the demand for translation services is at an all-time high. There are several programs online seeking to fill this need, offering instant translations for various languages. Then you have the good old translation service where you have professionals translating your content from one language to the other. Which option can deliver the most accurate results? In this article, we compare human and AI translation services so you can make an informed decision.
Human vs. Machine Translation: A Comparison
Human or machine? The debate on which one serves best is far from over. Each method has its distinct pros and cons. The right option for you will depend on the needs of your project. Below we examine how the two compare.
Machine translation offers you a fast turnaround, often churning out results within minutes. In most translation software, all you need to do is upload the document, which will then be translated into the language of your choice at the click of a button.
Human translation takes time. Unlike machine translation which can translate millions of words in an hour, a human translator can only handle about 200 words per hour. In this case, a 1,000-word document will take about 5 hours, with all factors held constant. If you consider editing time and the breaks taken in between, then a human will need even more time.
If you were quick to pick on machine translation due to the time factor as expounded above, you need to continue reading. How accurate is machine translation? Before you celebrate achieving a translation of 1,000 words in an hour, you may want to go through the finished work first.
Frankly, the precision of machine translation is wanting. Remember, a machine does not consider the context of the whole document. It also fails to consider the figures of speech, such as idioms, similes, proverbs, metaphors, puns, and so on. If you translate any of these phrases directly, you lose their meaning.
If you want to preserve the quality of your content, you’re better off going for human translation. Machine translation may apply where you’re translating general information where a bit of deviation can be accommodated. The key is not to distort the message.
With machine translation, a single program can translate into different languages, making the service cheaper. Some AI tools impose a monthly or annual subscription fee to enjoy unlimited use.
With human translation, the price depends on the quantity of work to be translated. Most service providers charge according to the number of words. Given that your document will receive personalized attention and every bit of it translated with precision, we can say that every cent you spend is worth it. The quality of the translation gives you value for money.
Many purport to offer translation services, but true language experts are few and far apart. Hiring a translator, especially for the less common languages, is challenging. In terms of availability, you might find it easier to access machine translation since it’s only a click away.
Human translators may be unavailable or engaged with other tasks. The trick here is to work with a translation company and not just a handful of freelancers. Reputable translation agencies have thousands of professionals available to work at a moment’s notice. Therefore, even an urgent job won’t be problematic.
Human Translation Wins
Ultimately, nothing beats the precision of human translation. Companies offering human translation services have pools of translators specializing in different languages and industries. It’s not a jack-of-all-trades system. Each translator specializes in just a few languages and has mastered them inside and out. You want someone who’s an expert, not just in your source and target languages but the type of document you’re translating.
Human translation gives room for creativity. When you employ language experts, they know that direct translation does not always work. Sometimes they may choose to present the information in a different format, which enhances its compatibility with the target audience. Remember, the ultimate goal here is to facilitate communication and not merely to translate words from one language to another. Only a human translator can offer such a service.