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Lost in Translation: The Dilemma of Machine Translation

The decision between using machine translation or relying on human translators has become a pressing question in today's digital age. While online translation tools have shown remarkable efficacy, and artificial intelligence (AI) continues to advance rapidly, those of us immersed in the translation industry understand that human translation remains the gold standard in terms of reliability.

Translation, a process that dates back thousands of years, originally emerged with the spread of Christianity and the need to translate religious texts into different languages. Over time, this practice has evolved significantly, along with the tools and expertise required to execute it. What was once the domain of monks and scribes has now transformed into a profession embraced by linguists and language enthusiasts worldwide. These dedicated professionals continuously adapt, develop, and explore the essence of translation.

The progress of machines and AI has undeniably become an integral part of the

conversation. While human and machine translation are often portrayed as opposing forces, they are not as mutually exclusive as one might think. Translators are finding ways to leverage the efficiency of machines rather than disregarding or rejecting them. After all, efficiency is a key objective in many aspects of modern life.

Consider your daily routine. Do you rely on a preset alarm to wake you up? Are your meetings organized and stored in an electronic calendar? Do you press a button and let your coffee machine do the rest? Human reliance on machines and automation is becoming increasingly universal, leading to the need for better and smarter tools. However, who sets the alarm time, enters the meeting dates, or fills the coffee machine with the precise amount of grounds and water? Ultimately, it is humans who provide the guidance and expertise behind these machines.

Take Google Translate as an example—an instantaneous, surprisingly accurate, and free tool that operates around the clock, even equipped to comprehend slang. It boasts an overall accuracy rate of "81 percent to 92 percent,"1 an impressive feat for machine translation. However, for companies and organizations dealing with legally or culturally sensitive documents that require 100% accuracy, relying solely on machine translation poses a significant risk. While AI has made notable progress in this regard, we have not yet reached a point where it can fully grasp context, nuance, and tone—the very essence of translation. In fact, a recent study comparing human and machine translations revealed that human translations were preferred at a rate of 84% over machine translations.2

While machine translation can be beneficial for small, personal correspondences or quick searches, reports, emails, slogans, contracts, and any document that will be exchanged across borders are best entrusted to the hands of expert human translators. When you choose All About Words, you can rest assured that only the most qualified and dedicated human translators will handle your work—whether it's a single sentence or a lengthy document consisting of thousands of words. Our utmost priority is your peace of mind, ensuring that your message and voice remain authentic throughout the translation process.

If you're curious about the ways translators leverage digital tools, stay tuned for our detailed explanation on CAT tools and how they helps us translate better, maximize efficiency, and tailor the translation process to your particular needs!

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