The Problems with Automated Language Translation


Technology: sometimes you have a love-hate relationship with it. That may be the case for automated language translation. It’s appreciated for the convenience it offers but when it comes to errors in translation, its reputation suffers. When a machine takes the responsibility away from you, there’s a sense of relief. What happens when the translation is a mess, or worse, causes a liability for your company? Before turning your next translation job over to a machine consider the following known problems with automated language translation.

Inconsistent Accuracy

If you’ve recently looked at a document rendered from voice to text there’s a good chance it was transcribed by a machine. If the text is complex, read it carefully. You’re likely to find some inaccuracies in both spelling and context. Text generated by automated language translation can come back with a low accuracy level. Consider the idea that automated language translation uses speech and language recognition in the translation process. Artificial intelligence (AI) isn’t perfect. Since the translation systems run on AI what they produce isn’t perfect either. Currently, AI has not perfected processing requests in one language. Now we’re expecting the technology to translate multiple languages. If the speaker has a foreign or regional accent, words and phrases can be translated inaccurately. Hiring a translation agency ensures you’re paying for a 100% accurate translation.

The High Cost of Mistakes

If you’re translating a letter or a short report and have the time to read through and correct mistakes, a few errors might not be a huge problem. However, there are mistakes in translation which could cost you financially. Other mistakes could cost lives. Both result in irreparable damages. For example, translations for medical equipment instructions require 100% accuracy. Aviation manuals also must be translated with 100% accuracy. Peoples’ lives depend on it! Legal documents such as contracts can’t have any mistakes either. How do you determine what level of accuracy you require? If you’re putting translated content in front of your customers it must be accurate. If you provide content that gives product instructions, especially if health and safety could be affected, accuracy is essential. When 100% accuracy is a concern, especially if you’re in the medical field, hiring a translation agency is a better option.


Machines Can’t Translate Context

In the early days of automated language translation, machines only translated individual words. Current technology considers entire sentences rather than single words. And yet, even with advances in technology, there are still glitches. Entire sentences still don’t provide enough context to guarantee accuracy. Words and sentences are merely the building blocks for an entire text. Words depend on sentences for meaning. A reader can’t get the full meaning of sentences without the rest of the paragraph. And finally, text derives meaning from an even broader context of culture and an understanding of what the original speaker meant to say. Humor, sarcasm, and irony are lost in translation more often than not. A human interpreter can translate context and capture the meaning exactly.

Do you have critical documents such as contracts, health records, or manuals with health and safety content that need to be translated with 100% accuracy? Or is your organization hosting a multilingual event? Contact Tembua, Inc. if you’re looking for human translators who don’t simply translate words but capture meaning. Our translators also use a quality process to review their work, ensuring you get the most accurate translation.