The Translator Cyborg: From a Buyer’s Perspective



In last week’s blog, we addressed the future of translation services in relation to a hybrid model (i.e. the partnership of human and machine translation) and its advantages. This week’s blog will explore the counter-narrative of this topic by considering the perspective of purchasing professionals.

The Buyer’s Perspective

“Translation is/should be free”. This is a common misconception shared amongst translation service buyers. However, this is far from reality. So, the question remains: what am I paying for?


The Difference of Results produced by Machine and Human Translation Services

Technological machine translation services are hard-wired to solve straight-forward content. For example, a plain statement: “Hello, my name is Robin” à “Bonjour, je m’appelle Robin”. This can be completed by a technological system because it is a direct translation that does not require human assistance.

On the contrary, translation services produced by humans are culturally and emotionally driven. Trans-creation is the term used to define translation services within the marketing field. It is the process of re-creating and re-defining content in order to adapt to the appropriate context. For example, a marketing campaign launches a product in Germany promoting football. The same marketing campaign launches in the United States. A machine translator would not understand the difference between football in Germany versus soccer in the United States. This would be a common error produced by technological systems because they lack the understanding of cultural context and human emotion. In addition, human translation services are able to instigate a range of human emotions: sadness, joy, excitement etc. These are usually found in original source text and must be correctly translated illustrated to the target text(s), which requires human intervention.


Wrapping it Up

To conclude, purchasing professionals are paying for the quality of translated content. Until technological advancements are able to detect and translate complex content (i.e. cultural contexts, human emotion), the hybrid model of human and machine translation services is the greatest alternative.

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