Computer Translation vs. Human Translation

Computer Translation vs. Human Translation

With the emergence of many PC and web-based translation applications, commonly known as Machine Translation (MT), it is no longer difficult to translate documents or websites from one language into another. However, just because something is easy does not necessarily make it the best option.

Most of the world's languages have evolved over time, and as such there are occasions when an exact conversion of a single word or phrase from one language to another is not possible. It is in these circumstances that the MT software will fall short, using rules rather than judgement, or equations instead of expertise.

This leads us on to the main benefits of using human translation:

First Language Expertise

A professional human translator will only ever translate into their native language. By doing so, the translator will be able to adjust the flow of the text to replicate the tone, phrasing, style and nuances of their mother tongue. In fact, a high-quality human translation will not appear to be a translation at all; it will read like it was originally composed in the target language.

Subject Knowledge

Making sense of a technical or legal document can sometimes be a challenge for all of us, let alone machine translation. Only human translators with relevant specialist skills and experience will translate such documents. Therefore, a human translator can ensure that all of the subject-specific details have been perfectly maintained and rendered in the translation. Machine translation will not be able to mimic this expertise, and as such the risk that the final output will lead to confusion or misunderstanding is high.


Machines lack the ability to be creative, so a machine translation will only ever be a literal adaptation. Professional translators are also skilled writers with experience of crafting stylish text in their native language. Where no exact translation exists, a human translator will use their creative skills to find the most relevant and appropriate phrase or expression in order to convey the correct intended meaning.

Cultural Sensitivity

Just as complex as languages, the cultures and traditions that underpin every society in the world vary greatly. As a native speaker, a human translator will be able to adapt a translation to ensure that it is culturally sensitive and appropriate for its intended audience. Elements that are culturally irrelevant, confusing, offensive or superfluous can be adapted and modified in a way that only a human translator could do.

The complexities of language and culture are dynamic and constantly evolving. Only a human can really have an understanding and appreciation of the complexities of language, subject expertise and cultural awareness. In the same way that a computer will never write a beautiful symphony, or create a classic work of art, machine translation software will never be able to replicate the work of a human translator.

For more information about human translation services or to discuss a project, get in touch with Sure Languages today.

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Tags: Computer Translation, Human Translation, Human translators, human translator, computer translator, Translator Training.