How Translators Can Best Utilize Machine Translation

In professional translator circles, machine translation is often seen as a 4-letter word. We laugh at how it bungles grammar, produces outright gibberish or somehow manages to turn a basic statement into some kind of vague Zen koan. “It sounds clunky and awkward,” we say. “It lacks nuance.” “It’s pathetic.” 

And then of course we visit Google Translate way more often than we’d care to admit, while secretly being terrified that AI will ultimately steal our jobs.

What Exactly Is Machine Translation?

First off, machine translation generally refers to the act of inputting a large chunk of text into a program like Google Translate or DeepL, letting the algorithm based on neural networks analyze the words, then receiving what is usually a somewhat passable translation of that same text in another language.  

It is fast, it is easy, and it is far from perfect. If the text is intended for any kind of large audience, professional or educational environment, or is basically important in any significant way, you can’t stop there. The machine-translated text would then need to be reviewed, reworked and edited by a human translator.

If Machine Translation Is Bad, How Could It Be Useful for a Translator?

As any contractor can tell you, you’ve got to know how to properly use your tools, and you’ve got to have the right tool for the job.

Let’s start with how to use your machine translation tools. They can be great for double-checking your work after you’ve finished, or trying to get a feel for a completely incomprehensible chunk of text. They can also come in handy when translating medical texts, as the technical terms are generally accurate (always double-check though!) and the machine style lends itself better to the terse tone of medical texts. 

As for which tool is best, DeepL only has 26 languages, but if you’re doing a European language, its algorithm using the Linguee database is usually better than any other alternatives. DeepL also has handy built-in synonyms at a click. Google Translate is there for your searches in Swahili, Pashto, Luxembourgish, etc. It has an image translate feature via its Lens function, as well as speech assistance.

Best Translation Services – APlus Translations

It bears repeating that relying on a machine for the best translation is a recipe for disaster, but when used as a tool by professional translators, you can have high-quality work in a shorter amount of time. At APlus Translations, we equip our translation teams with the best technology for each specific job in order to provide clients with the best of both worlds.

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