The internet age and globalization have brought us closer together than ever before. However, language barriers still exist and can be a challenging hump for businesses to overcome. Thankfully, machine learning translation has made content localization a more practical and affordable option for businesses by making human translators’ jobs easier to do. There’s no doubt that AI-powered translation tools have revolutionized the way we work and connect with others across the world.
That being said, not all machine translation tools are created equally. Below, we’ll explore the pros and cons of AI-powered translation tools, along with a roundup of some of the best software solutions you can currently put to good use.
Machine translation software explained
Machine translation software is essentially a digital tool that supports users in translating text from one language into another. The best translation tools can take either written texts or audio content and produce reliable translations in a target language.
Google Translate and voice assistants like Siri are commonly-used examples of machine translation tools. Not only does machine translation software provide quick and easy access to translation services, but it can also help everyday users advance their language learning. These popular tools, though, are not recommended for professional use by businesses.
AI language translation: The pros and cons
Artificial intelligence translation software has many benefits and can be used in everyday settings and for professional applications alike. However, most people agree that AI language translation can only do so much. Without the human touch and post-translation editing input from experienced linguists, you can’t expect perfect results with 100% accuracy.
Benefits of using an artificial intelligence translator
Artificial intelligence language translation tools aren’t like human translators. They don’t get overwhelmed by busy workloads and can comfortably manage large volumes of translations without requiring a break. When it comes to mass translations, they’re the obvious choice.
AI translations will also be delivered incredibly quickly. In order to translate, an AI mines vast datasets. This allows machine translation software to produce near-instant results. Accuracy is also surprisingly high and getting better all the time. Admittedly, AI tools are far from perfect, but if 100% accuracy isn’t a priority, they’re a worthwhile consideration.
Drawbacks of AI translations
Even with the best translation tools, context can prove a problem. Machine translation tools can struggle to get to grips with the nuances of different languages. Colloquialisms pose a particular challenge, while translations may not match up to the input language if it contains words with multiple meanings.
AI translations also find emotive text a challenge. Although this isn’t much of a concern for stripped-back, sterile text, machine translation isn’t as likely to make much sense of idioms. If you’re dealing with text that’s loaded with emotional content, you’ll almost certainly need to bring in the services of a human translator.
Another hurdle for translation software is tone of voice. While AI tools are getting better in this regard, it’s easy to spot the difference between a text that’s been translated by a machine and a translation produced by a human linguist.
AI tools can partially interpret emotional meaning, but they won’t be able to decipher humor particularly well. In a worst-case scenario, AI tools may produce a translation that’s far removed from the intent of the source text.
Machine translation explained
In short, a machine translation is a text produced by a machine translation tool. A user inputs source text in one language and then selects a target language to generate a translation.
Machine translation tools can produce huge volumes of results in relatively little time. Translation quality will vary depending on the software. In almost every case, a human linguist will be required to carry out proofreading and perform essential edits.
How does machine translation software actually work?
Machine translation software processes vast amounts of text in a relatively short period. In fact, it’s almost instantaneous when compared to the capabilities of humans. AI translation tools can work with huge volumes of text, in both source and target languages.
A machine translation engine works by comparing text from both the source and target language. Meanwhile, rule-based machine learning (RBML) uses both grammar and language rules, which have been designed and put in place by human linguists with extensive experience in translation. It also uses tailored dictionaries that have been heavily adapted for use in certain industries. This makes it far less likely for keywords and phrases with multiple means to be misinterpreted. Ultimately, it overcomes a lot of contextual issues with translations.
Statistical machine translation refers to existing translations produced by human linguists. Statistical machine translation doesn’t approach translations on a word-by-word basis, nor does it follow any rigid linguistic rules.
Neural machine translation works very differently. By utilizing a vast neural network, neural machines teach themselves how to translate. Nowadays, it’s the most common type of machine translation on the market, using language pairs to produce incredibly reliable results.
Should I be using machine translation software?
If you only require translation services for a single document or short-term project, a human translator is the best way to go. However, there are many instances where machine translation software in combination with human translation is the best option.
You can translate huge volumes of raw text
If you have a lot of text that needs to be translated and you’re tight for time, machine translation tools are your best friend. You can use machine learning software to translate individual blog posts or an entire website at breakneck speeds. This level of output wouldn’t be possible if you were to depend solely on human translators.
Machine translation tools can also work around the clock, with no need for regular breaks. For people looking for serviceable translations in a relatively short amount of time, a machine translation engine can deliver the goods.
Once machine translation is complete, human linguists can then step in to perform translation management, making minor edits or more substantial amendments as and when required.
AI translations can deliver the goods depending on context
In certain cases, machine translation can deliver highly accurate and reliable results. An example would be service manuals and user documentation where the language used is fairly straightforward and consistent.
AI-powered translation tools can deliver impressive results relatively quickly. Sometimes, however, the translated text may be lacking cohesion. To overcome this, a human translator will then need to perform minor edits to improve consistency and readability.
The best choice if you’re tight for time and have a limited budget
Tackling a translation project with an all-human team can prove expensive. If translation requirements are significant and ongoing, machine-based solutions can help businesses enjoy considerable time and cost savings in the long run.
That being said, machine translations are never 100% accurate. Ultimately, businesses will need to compensate for occasional errors and contextual issues by investing in human translation services. Nonetheless, overall costs are reduced, making AI translation tools a practical and affordable option, even for small to medium-sized businesses.
The advantages of artificial intelligence language translation
Machine translation tools are certainly no substitute for human linguists. However, they can be used to lighten the workload of human translator teams.
When properly integrated into your workflows, artificial intelligence translation software can streamline your operation. Large translation projects can be completed in a fraction of the time it would take for a team of human linguists to complete the job. What’s more, if you’ve invested in the best translation software, you can enjoy significant cost savings.
1. Machine translation software lets you automate the process
Machine translation engines are designed to handle large volumes of text, delivering translations almost instantaneously. Although the translated text is rarely pitch-perfect, the results are almost always more than serviceable.
Machine-translated texts can then be passed onto a human translator for a final process. Despite this extra step in the translation process, it’s a cost-effective direction for businesses looking to repurpose text into multiple languages at once.
2. Effective at delivering pre-translation results
Machine translation tools can be used by businesses that don’t have in-house translation support. They can be seen as a way to produce pre-translation content. Once the text has been translated by AI-powered software, a competent writer can usually take care of the next round of edits.
3. AI translations are surprisingly reliable
Although human translators don’t need to worry about being forced out of a job anytime soon, AI-powered software is delivering increasingly accurate results. If you’re looking to translate text from one common language into another – say, English to Spanish – machine translation tools can be relied upon to produce incredibly accurate results.
Machine translation excels when it comes to common language pairs. The best translator tools can even understand colloquialisms to an extent. Once your tool of choice has delivered translated content, you can pass the text on to a proofreader.
4. The best translation tools are a cost-effective option
Some of the best translation tools are free to use. Even the premium versions of these tools are surprisingly affordable.
As they can work around the clock and experience no downtime, even paid versions are a cost-effective solution for handling large volumes of translations. Any business using them will certainly have to budget for proofreaders and, depending on the nature of the project, a second round of translation. However, overall costs will be marginal compared to the expense of going all in with manual translations.
What is the easiest way to start using MT?
The easiest way to start using MT you can trust is by finding a localization partner that already uses the best MT tools. BLEND uses and trains the best MT vendors in existence to provide the high quality AI technology, making this the best choice for businesses aiming for translations that suit multi-market environments.
With instant AI-powered translations, it’s the obvious choice for anyone looking for quick, professional results. What’s more, BLEND’s AI-powered translations are backed by a network of more than 25,000 language experts. BLEND’s certified linguists are subject matter experts in a variety of different industries, so it’s easier to tailor your translation requirements.
Strike the perfect balance between AI and human translation for results back in as little as 24 hours. What’s more, you can maintain constant oversight of your project, with user-friendly tools that allow you to track your project’s progress and communicate directly with your translators.
6 machine translation software tools you should be using in 2023
If you’re looking to make quick work of translation projects, now’s the time to invest in machine translation software. Need some pointers? Below, we spotlight some of the best machine translation solutions you should be using in 2023.
1. Google Translate
Accessible and incredibly easy to use, Google Translate is one of the most popular translation tools on the web. Google Neural Machine Translation (GNMT) delivers highly accurate and reliable results, with output text maintaining surprisingly high levels of context.
Furthermore, Google Translate supports more than 100 different languages. Although you’ll fare better if you’re using common language pairs, there are few better free translation engines out there.
DeepL is another neural machine translation service that’s made waves since being unveiled in 2017. It’s very reliable and can handle fairly complex translations. Although user-friendly, it’s fairly limited when it comes to customization options. What’s more, it only supports 26 languages as of 2022.
While the free version of this service has its limits, DeepL Pro boasts many perks, including enhanced data security, making it an ideal choice for businesses dealing with sensitive information.
3. Alexa Translations
Launched in 2002, Alexa Translations is one of the oldest translation tools around. It’s been the go-to translation service for the financial, legal, and technical sectors for many years. Customized machine learning delivers high-speed translations, making it easy to integrate this one alongside a team of human linguists. Safe and secure, it’s an obvious choice for anyone dealing with confidential material.
4. Microsoft Translator
Microsoft Translator is free to use and currently provides translations in more than 70 languages. Although not as popular as Google Translate, this innovative translation tool allows users to translate from text sources, as well as voice input, images, and screenshots.
Languages can also be downloaded for offline translations, making Microsoft Translator a handy travel companion. While a flexible choice with plenty of nifty features, this one’s best reserved for everyday use rather than professional applications.
5. Amazon Translate
Fast and affordable, Amazon Translate can deliver high-quality translations in a matter of seconds. Useful if you’re looking to localize content in various formats, it can be used for everything from blog articles to app content.
A great choice if you’re looking for a translation tool to handle technical content, Amazon Translate also delivers when it comes to language coverage and content formats.
6. Baidu Translate
With Baidu being the Chinese counterpart to Google, Baidu Translate is a valuable tool for anyone looking to expand into Chinese markets. There’s no English platform as such, but this translation tool is easy enough to navigate for non-native speakers.
It can overcome contextual challenges relatively easily, while the platform can be tailored to specific industry types, resulting in surprisingly specific translations.
Which is the best machine translation tool for me?
Nowadays, there’s no reason to sideline international markets. Machine translation tools have made it easier than ever for any business to extend its reach to new territories and non-native speakers. However, successful localization requires far more rough and ready translations. For best results, you’ll need a full-service approach.
At BLEND, we provide unbeatable localization and translation services. Our advanced AI-powered solutions can accommodate high-volume translation requirements. Meanwhile, a team of 25,000 expert linguists working in more than 120 languages is on hand to provide machine translations with a final polish. Eager to learn more? Get in touch today.
Need fast, high-quality translation?