When it comes to translation, even Google admits “today’s most efficient software cannot master a language as well as a native speaker’, and certainly can’t match professional translators.
However, small, or even medium, size business budget constraints often mean that a professional isn’t affordable. This makes it important to be clear on the pros and cons of translation technology, and how you know when a human translator is essential.
Technology is useful – most of the time
There is no doubt that machine translators have their benefits. They provide an instant service, can translate to almost any popular language and, their biggest attraction: they’re (mostly) free to use.
However, it is important to remember that when using a digital translator, such as Google Translate or Babylon Translation, you are dealing with a machine. This means the translations they provide will not always be accurate. Because their response is a direct reaction to the input they’re given, they can only ever provide direct translations.
Machine translation will always be basic and although it may be good at giving you the gist of what is being said, it will never be able to explain it to you in detail. Sometimes these basic translations can even be inaccurate, out of context or, in some cases, just completely wrong.
So when can you use machine translators?
With this in mind, it is best to limit the use of translator technology in the world of business. Only ever use translation technology when there is very little at stake. For example, using it to translate received letters or emails will probably cause very little harm as it should provide you with the gist of what is being said by a client.
However, if you’re acting on any of the information you have received, you should run notes past a professional translator to ensure you have not misinterpreted anything important. For example, if you wish to bring up an issue in a meeting regarding a received email or even simply wish to respond, it is best to ensure you have not misunderstood anything as this could appear unprofessional and in turn, potentially damage your company’s reputation.
When using a professional is essential
In interactive situations, a professional interpreter is always a must. Whether it is a face-to-face meeting, event or a phone call, a human interpreter will ensure that these situations run smoothly. There are different types of interpreters, including whispering (interpreting for individuals or small groups), telephone, video and, the most popular according to translation company London Translations, consecutive.
These different types of interpreters all deal with any real-time interaction with a client, and help to ensure that these interactions are as professional as possible. This is of the utmost importance as you cannot afford to misinterpret a client’s point or sense of humour when they have direct access to you as you risk upsetting or offending them which could cause loss of business.
A human interpreter will provide a quality service, ensuring everything is translated correctly and intended messages are conveyed accurately.
It is essential to use a human translator when any legal documents are involved – if you are preparing to sign a deal with a client it is important that you both know exactly what is being agreed upon. Skimming on a human translator in these situations could cause very serious consequences for your business if you are taken to court for any reason. You may want to hire a freelance, professional translator when doing any long term work in another language.
Although translator technology has it’s advantages, it is no competition for a professional translator. If you do opt for technology, it is best to have any translations checked over by a professional to ensure that they are as accurate as possible.