Should Machine or Human Translators be Used for Large Translation Projects?

Machine or Human Translators

Often companies today are turning to mass marketing campaigns in international markets which require a large amount of translations ranging from websites to product manuals. These sorts of translation projects are ongoing with the constant updating of websites and the introducing of more products onto the market so it’s not the question of just completing one off translation projects.

Companies will often try to negotiate a bulk cost effective translation deal with the same company to cover all the translation work but this sort of tactic has often led to unbelievable translation errors that is not really expected from well known large companies. All companies should carefully consider whether they should insist that their chosen translation company only uses a human translator and not a faster machine translator.

Are Cheap Translations Worth It?

It’s possible to get away with translating some documents using computer-assisted tools without worrying too much about accuracy and even translating words badly with poor spelling. But if the poorly translated text is part of key information that the company needs to get across to potential consumers it could end up losing customers, not gaining them. A quite simple error could end up in missing a deadline, a hike in customer complaints and a reputation that becomes damaged. When a translation error leads to an advertisement showing an incorrect price or product name customers could be lost. Web pages that have been badly translated get lower rankings through search engines because of the inability to use keywords well and the poor quality of the language used in the website.

Cultural Context and Machine Translations

Machine translations face obstacles due to cultural context, but a human translator doesn’t have that type of problem. There was one such situation in Spain where a product called Coors was advertised with the expression “Turn It Loose” which when translated into Spanish came out with the meaning of promising customers diarrhoea! This campaign, rather unsurprisingly, lost customers. There are times where a poor translation could lead to the shipping of wrong products to wrong places, producing poor translations of the specifications of products and signing contracts due to wrong wording. The money saved on a cheap translation could end up with a lost reputation which could take years to re-build.

Be Selective When Choosing Cheaper Translating Options

You should set a bit of time aside for assessing the importance of some of your material that needs to be translated. For documents where accuracy is not so important using machine translation wouldn’t matter so much. While using a cheaper machine translator will probably do little harm to that type of translation project but for a key high profile document any misunderstanding may cost you not just money but also your reputation and customers. This is where you should seriously consider a human translator.

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