Machine translation – is it worth it?

There is no clear answer to this question. Because it always depends on who is asking and what is to be translated from which language into which language and how. Anyone with an internet connection can already benefit from machine translation. Online translation programs enable one to translate, read and understand texts from any language to any language. With a click and in seconds. But is the translation quality sufficient for high demands? Can machine translation measure up to human translation?

What is machine translation? (simple definition of terms)

If a computer program (so-called software) automatically translates a text from one language into another, then this is a machine translation , in short: MT. You may be familiar with the following translation machines from everyday life , the services of which you can use free of charge: Google Translate, DeepL or Bing Translator.

Why do we need machine translation?

Because the world is coming together. We use technology and engineering to overcome natural limitations that time and space set for us. Globalization , i.e. the worldwide networking of human society, does not stop at language borders.

Global challenges, above all climate change, are accelerating globalization. With climate change, for the first time humanity has to solve a task that the community needs. This task cannot be solved without the targeted cooperation of all people around the globe. Community comes from communication. Communication is based on everyone understanding everyone else.

How does machine translation work?

In the course of technical progress, several methods for machine translation have already been developed, which we will briefly present to you below:

Rule -based machine translation methods include:

  • direct machine translation , in which the translation software translates the text in sequence, word by word, using a dictionary. The software then makes the necessary adjustments to the translation according to the rules of the target language, for example in the sentence order or the inflection of verbs.
  • the transfer method , in which the text to be translated is first examined for its grammatical structure (analysis). Then the program translates this structure into the desired language (transfer). Finally, the software generates sentences (generation) from the already translated structures according to the applicable grammar.
  • the interlingua method , which first translates the grammatical information of the text template into the intermediate language “Interlingua” according to predetermined rules. The software then generates the grammatical information in the target language.

There is also the example -based machine translation method (EBMT for short), the core of which is a translation memory filled with frequently recurring sentences or phrases and their translations. The software generates the translation based on the similarity of the original sentences with saved entries.

With the statistical translation method (in English: Statistics-Based Machine Translation, short: SBMT), the software first analyzes the largest possible collection of bilingual texts (so-called text corpus) and sorts words and grammatical forms in the source and target languages ​​based on their frequency and mutual proximity to each other. The software then translates the text using the resulting dictionary and grammar. This MT does not require any knowledge of the languages ​​involved!

The neural machine translation ( NMT) method also examines bilingual texts. An artificial neural network as part of artificial intelligence (AI) records the connections between the source and target language.

This list of machine translation methods also includes Human-Aided Machine Translation , or HAMT for short, i.e. human-assisted MT . The user translates ambiguous or complicated parts of the text themselves, sometimes interactively, or excludes them from the outset. Important : The HAMT is not to be confused with the MAHT. Because in computer-aided translation (machine-aided human translation, also known as computer-aided translation or computer-assisted translation, or CAT for short), software helps the human translator for legal translations Manchester.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of machine translation?

Machine translation, as offered to us by the services mentioned above, not only delivers translations quickly, but also free of charge. Operating the associated platforms is simple and convenient. These are advantages that score. Many everyday translation tasks can be solved satisfactorily with it.

On the other hand, anyone who has high demands on the translation of documents, be it of a linguistic or security nature, will not be satisfied by the free services in particular. They often (still) lack the skills to correctly translate humor or language images – let alone (still) mention their technical language skills.

When is machine translation worthwhile and when not?

As a result, machine translation is (still) the quick-and-dirty translation solution for everyday needs. Everything that goes beyond that (still) needs the human factor, i.e. the human factor in order to translate correctly and reliably.

Are you looking for a translation service provider who will take on specialist translations for you? Then you’ve come to the right place! Our professional translators are proficient in all the languages ​​and dialects of the world. They localize specific technical texts themselves in such a way that no misunderstandings arise when reading them.

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