AI Translation vs. Human Translation: Pros and Cons
August 11 , 2023 · 7 min
Artificial intelligence has revolutionized machine translation technology in recent years. However, no matter how advanced the technology has become, this software has a long way to go before it can truly compete with the skills of a professional translator.
That being said, there’s always room for AI-assisted translations. Some businesses rely on the near-instant turnaround of such software to handle repetitive translation tasks. Others lean on machine translation to cope with expanding workflows, although human translators are almost always required to rectify grammar, repair syntax, and ensure the original meaning is properly conveyed.
AI translation explained
What is AI Translation? Artificial translation isn’t the same thing as standard machine translation. However, machine learning plays a vital role in AI translation. Unlike standard machine translation engines, which approach translations on a word-by-word basis, AI translator tools apply advanced machine learning to languages.
The best AI tools are able to recognize the nuances of language, including complex sentence structure and tone of voice. Furthermore, some AI translation tools can recognize specific colloquialisms and humor.
The end result is a translation that’s far more accurate than what would ever be possible with a standard translation tool. As with online tools like Google Translate, AI translation relies on something called Neural Machine Translation (NMT). These automated translation systems aren’t perfect, but NMT is becoming more refined over time.
When to use machine translation
Although automated translation software is currently no match for human translation, there are plenty of situations where an automatic translator device can be useful. AI translation can deliver near-instant results, making it ideal for when you need to meet an urgent deadline. However, there’s always a trade-off when it comes to accuracy. That being said, if pitch-perfect accuracy isn’t essential, the decision between human translation vs translation is obvious.
Using an automatic translator device as a supplement to human translation is also a cost-effective solution for businesses looking to expand into new territories. Companies can explore new markets and revenue streams, without having to invest in native speakers to do so.
Inconsistencies with AI translation
Inconsistency is something to be wary of with any translation project. The longer the document that’s being localized, the more likely it is that inconsistencies will become a problem.
It’s a particular problem for translating technical documents like user manuals. These types of text demand consistency, but some AI language translating machines may produce many variations of one word.
In the past, these inconsistencies resulted in an increased workload for translation proofreaders. In fact, it remains a major point of contention for businesses weighing AI translation device pros and cons.
Thankfully, contemporary AI is far more refined, producing less variation in translated texts. Working with top-quality AI translation systems and defining a translation glossary ahead of time helps prevent translation inconsistencies.
The main advantages of AI in translation
AI-assisted translations bring many benefits. For starters, the best language translating machine software can deliver high levels of consistency. The more AI is used in translation projects, the more accurate it becomes over time. Eventually, AI can lighten the load for editors and proofreaders.
AI translation is quick and efficient, working many times faster than a human translator ever could. What’s more, it can produce output in multiple languages from a single source text.
It’s arguably the best choice for repetitive translation tasks, particularly those that don’t require an exceptionally high level of accuracy. In short, it’s a great choice for non-critical tasks, especially for businesses with limited resources.
AI translators can also be adapted for individual clients. Automatic translator devices and software can be customized with unique vocabularies, ensuring translations are fine-tuned to meet the specific demands of every client.
Why effective translation matters for multilingual businesses
Brands are becoming increasingly multilingual as our world continues to globalize. In the United States, many businesses use dozens of individual languages. While essential for international enterprise, it does increase the likelihood of things getting lost in communication.
Miscommunication can cause significant delays to workflows. In a worst-case scenario, it can derail projects or lead to business-critical failures.
It’s a particular problem for retail operations or any business with online customer service teams. By not being able to respond to customers’ queries in their native language, brand reputation and future sales potential can be severely impacted.
Human translation vs artificial intelligence
Artificial intelligence translation can be an effective choice for businesses. It’s fast and easy to manage, while many software solutions are free-to-use. However, those looking for advanced features will almost certainly have to pay for the privilege.
However, pure AI translation still has plenty of pitfalls. It’s easy for source text to be misinterpreted, leading to incorrect vocabulary being used.
Manual translation brings the human touch. A professional translator can collaborate directly with the person who created the source text, making it easier to receive feedback and use critical thinking to understand the brief. While a human translation can take longer to deliver a finished translation, the result is usually incredibly accurate. For efficiency and accuracy, AI-assisted human translation can be a good balance depending on the project.
Machine translation vs human translation: Pros and cons
Thinking about using artificial intelligence translation? There are many benefits to language translating machines. By using advanced neural networks, translations can be delivered incredibly quickly. Furthermore, translations can be produced from written texts or spoken word sources.
AI-assisted software is becoming increasingly advanced. It’s incredibly effective at producing solid first drafts that can be refined by human translators. For businesses looking to honor fast turnaround times, there’s no better option. A human might take a day or more to translate 5,000 words. AI, the future of localization, can deliver a full translation almost instantaneously.
AI translators are also incredibly user-friendly. Even someone with minimal experience can utilize the full functionality of an AI translator, negating the dependency on human translation online or in-house.
Weighing up the benefits of human translation vs machine translation? Cost implications are bound to factor into the equation. There are many free-to-use services out there, with the likes of DeepL and Google Translate among the most popular. Although these NMT solutions are effective, users will need to upgrade to premium subscriptions to reap their full benefits.
Unsurprisingly, there are downsides to AI-assisted translations. Even the best systems aren’t completely accurate. Many struggles to understand the nuances and complexity of language, leading to misinterpretations. This isn’t a huge concern for someone looking to translate a marketing email, but it’s something to avoid when translating a legal text or medical document.
Furthermore, the accuracy of NMT systems varies between languages. While the accuracy rate from English to Spanish is relatively high, the same can’t be said for other languages.
AI translations do well when it comes to translating things literally, but it struggles to contextualize the source text accurately. Even a minor mistranslation can result in a nonsensical sentence or paragraph. While human translators can pick up these issues during the editing and proofreading stage, there are time and cost implications to consider.
Why is it better to use human translation?
There really isn’t any substitute for an experienced human translator. A professional linguist can take charge of an assignment, discuss the scope of a translation project, and constantly communicate with clients. Unlike AI, a human translator delivers bespoke service to every client. It’s also simpler to adapt to changing project requirements, without the risk of consistency being compromised.
What’s more, a professional linguist understands the pitfalls of translation. They know how to adapt a source text into a new language without sacrificing context. There’s no chance of emotional meaning being left behind during the process of translating text from one language into another. Ultimately, the end result preserves the original meaning of a text, delivering the same result to every end user.
Can Google Translate be used instead of a human translator?
It’s tempting for businesses looking to expand into new markets to use free-to-use services like Google Translate. Although these AI-assisted tools are useful, they’re no replacement for professional translation services.
Google Translate can deliver instant results in many languages, but the results aren’t always that accurate. Grammatical issues are likely to arise, while inconsistency is almost guaranteed if you’re looking to translate longer texts.
Furthermore, machine translation solutions like Google Translate support relatively few languages. There are almost 7,000 languages, with Google Translate only offering support for a fraction of them.
How to choose the best translation services for your business
Machine translations can be a quick and effective tool, but they’re not a practical option for businesses looking to make the right first impression. Just one bad translation is enough to tarnish a brand’s identity forever. Furthermore, AI translations aren’t practical for certain industries. Medical guidelines, legal documents, and user manuals all require the input of experienced linguists with a firm handle on translation best practices.
Looking for human translation services you can trust? BLEND offers unbeatable translation and localization services, with top-of-the-line translation technology and an extensive network of professional linguists working in more than 120 languages. If you’re searching for native speakers who can deliver quick and accurate translations, get in touch today.
As BLEND’s Localization Solutions Engineer, Fouad is a seasoned expert in translation technologies, including TMS, CAT tools, AI and MT. With over 14 years of industry experience, Fouad ensures our clients receive the best and most efficient localization processes.