The complexity of machine translation

Did you know it takes you 10 years to master a language but a machine can translate in a millisecond? Isn’t that amazing! Well how is this done?

Machine translation is essentially a robot that is programmed to carry out automatic linguistic translation. It is a machine that teaches itself. All you have to do is feed it with data so that it can identify and recreate statistical patterns between two languages.

It all started out in 1954 with the creation of the IBM 701, a machine that was able to translate 49 sentences from Russian into English. With this new technological breakthrough, researchers were more than confident that they would solve the translation problem within the next few decades. They were quite off in terms of the amount of time it would take!

The translation problem continues to puzzle even the most innovative engineers.

We cannot deny that machine translation has been a life changing technological advance that has facilitated international communication across the globe. Type a sentence into an automatic translator and you will most probably ‘get the gist’ of what you are trying to say. But is the translation 100% accurate? Not in the slightest.

These machines do not cope well with lexical ambiguities (words that have more than one meaning) or structural ambiguities (phrases that can have more than one structure)

Yes it’s true that machine translation has saved a lot of time and money in the translation process. No human can compete with the speed at which they can produce translations. However, it is advised against using fully automated machine translations (machines requiring no human intervention at all), especially in businesses. This is why human edition is usually required for business-related translations.

Machine translation is said to become the standard for multilingual communication. But how can a company stand out in a market that is flooded by standardised content? Everyone will sound the same. Anyone can understand the importance of communicating a meaningful message in a marketing campaign. The key is to engage with consumers’ emotions. You want them to relate to your brand.

The truth is that a message can be lost through automatic translation and a robot will never sound as natural as a human. Human translators ‘recreate language’. It’s a unique process because every translator constructs sentences in different ways.

But it isn’t all bad I promise!!

Considering the advancement of its accuracy in the past couple of decades, the rate at which it is improving translation services is immeasurable. It definitely has a lot of potential.

GearTranslations offers professional translations and multilingual content creation for technical sectors such as IT, Finance, Health, Safety, Legal, Pharma, and Manufacturing. Accurate, professional translations and creative content are a vital component in the internationalisation of your business to break down the language barriers that prevent fluid communication with international consumers, foreign distributors, and foreign suppliers in any market overseas.

We offer 24/7 access to our online platform, speedy delivery of up to 5 hours, a cloud-based back-up copy for all previous translations. Our personalised translation library means you can save costs in the long run and our unique algorithm lets you capitalise on each translation, transforming your multilingual content into valuable assets for your company.

We’re a startup that values expansion at a global level. We understand that internationalisation entails many challenges because we ourselves have been there too when we expanded into new foreign markets. So, are you ready to embark on the internalisation journey, launch into new market destinations, and drive sales abroad? Contact us. Our translation service and multilingual content copywriting is the door to expand your business! We have a team of talented linguists, software developers, and creative millennials ready to help you improve your multilingual communications.

Image copyright: Fotolia