Karolina Sarul
June 06, 2023

3 Options to Solve a Machine Translation Dilemma

concept of machine translationIn the age of augmented reality, where you can get your data fully analyzed by machines and resources' productivity can rise immensely, where machine learning is the new reality, augmented translation is not a product of sci-fi imagination.

Machines make people’s lives and their businesses easier. Let’s put aside the morbid predictions about machines taking over the world. For now, anyway.

So, in the AI era, machine translation (neural machine translation or statistical machine translation) is more and more popular, or so it seems.


Many companies prefer their translations to be performed by humans.





  • Humans understand the context and machines don’t;
  • Humans make fewer errors when it comes to localization;
  • Humans understand linguistic and cultural nuances and machines don’t;
  • Humans are able to decide which term is better for the client’s sake, machines don’t.


So, why is machine translation a top developing subject in the translation and localization industry?



  • Machine translation takes less time;
  • Machines don’t make human errors;
  • It enhances profitability due to shortening the deadlines;
  • It gets better and better when it comes to quality.


And still, most clients look suspiciously at machine translation when it comes to their content. What is the solution?


There are three options to choose from:

  1. Continue the “human translation only” path.
  2. Convince yourself that since the machines are getting better – you should trust them more.
  3. Combine the previous two: use machine translation and trust but check – using human post-editing services.

Let’s take a look at your options in more detail.



Human-Translation-Only Path


Why not? You ask. I have no idea!


After all, humans are the ones that started this business years ago. Humans are the sole users of languages. They know the languages the best. We communicate since the earliest years of our lives. And before that, we communicate non-verbally (hello context understanding ability!)


In the translation industry, communication is at the core of it all. Verbal or not. And if humans, who understand the power of the right language and at the same time appreciate the relevance of non-verbal communication, are the experts working on your content, whatever it may be, you can sleep well.


You don’t have to worry about your content being an epic fail in overseas markets or offending your prospect and existing customers.


If you have the right humans doing translations for you, you have nothing to worry about. They will make sure your projects are dealt with on time and you get to share your content in the local markets without any delays. They are, after all, professionals. So, machine translation or not – they will deliver on time, on spec and on budget.






Related content: 5 Benefits You Get From Working With a Translation Agency





Trust the Machines More


Machine translation has proven to help increase the productivity of translation professionals, the project management teams and so on. Clients receive files quicker and are able to introduce their content to foreign markets in a shorter time than with human translation only.


Do the clients always receive what they expect? Translation quality is a term used by everyone these days, but in the aspect of machine translation, it should never be ignored just because “everybody talks about quality”.


I've come across some apps and websites where the translated content reminds me of the early post-communist days in Poland when we had a lot of electronic equipment introduced to our market and the manuals and product descriptions were translated poorly. I did not understand my own language in these brochures then.

So, should we trust machines only?


Human-Machine Hybrid

Post-editing of machine translation is a very popular service. And regardless of the many articles you can find on the Internet, it is still the closest to the ideal option.


You use the machine translation to shorten deadlines, boost productivity and increase the range of your content introduced internationally.





Related content: How to Reduce Turnaround Time for Content Translation





At the same time, you get the quality provided by human professionals who not only know the languages you target but also understand the local culture, regulations and traditions.


Not to mention marketing content that takes special consideration and knowledge when it comes to translation. They provide the added value in, well, being human.

Machines can analyze data for us, communicate information and create reports.


Machines provide quite good translations and save you time and money. But that's it.


Using machine translation engine without the human touch can cost you more than you will save. At this point in the language industry development and business in general, as well as machine translation development, one should not exist without the other.


So, if you decide that you want your content to be translated by machines, remember to make sure your translation services partner can provide post-editing for that. It should be obvious, but it’s not always the case.


If you, however, decide that you do not trust machines at all, that’s fine as well.


Just make it clear to your language services provider. If you have the right partner, they will not push you into something you don’t trust, just because it may be easier for them, increase their productivity and make it simpler for you, in the short run.


The right translation partner will always have your interest in mind and will focus on that as a priority. Your preferences included.


In these interesting times, you have three options to choose from. And they are all good options if you decide they’re good for you and for your business.


It’s always useful to consult with your translation agency to check their view, as experts. They might shed a different light on your perspective. And it never hurts to see things differently.


Essentially you are the one that makes the choice. Be sure to make an informed decision, to cover all the bases and ask all the relevant questions.

Your ideal translation partner will be there to assist you no matter what choice you make.


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How Much Do Translation Services Really Cost? [Rates & Factors]

Translation Agencies vs. Google Translate Plugin: An Honest Comparison