Translated : App vs. Human : What Do You Say?

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application versus human

App or Human: What’s the Best Way to Get Something Translated?

As a business, it’s only natural that you want to save as much money as possible.

In most cases, when a business is presented with the opportunity to get some content translated to a foreign language, the first instinct is to go with the most cost-effective option: machine translation technology. Online translation apps and translation software, for example.

It’s not a bad idea, actually.

We’re not talking about free online translation services like Google Translate and Bing Translator. While everyone and their mother knows how hilariously inaccurate and unreliable those services are, not everyone is aware of the fact that there are many high-quality apps and software out there that can translate multiple languages on a scarily accurate level.

Great, isn’t it?

Well, hold on. We’re not done.

Before you start looking for the right app or software for your business, keep in mind that in some cases it’s just better to hire a human translator.

As incredible as machine translation technology is, it will never replace human translators. It is simply here to enhance human capability and productivity. However, in the right circumstances, a machine translation service can be quite useful and reliable.

So… should you get a translation app or hire a human translator?

It all depends on your priorities and the nature of your project.

Let’s go over some of the most common types of projects and priorities and discuss which translation option would be better for each one:

If you want to save money…

Get an app.

It’s no secret that getting an app is much cheaper than hiring a human translator. Usually, you’ll just have to pay a one-time fee for the app or software. It’s a whole lot less money than paying a translator on an ongoing basis for his or her time and expertise. With the app, you know exactly how much money you’re paying. With a translator, the total on your invoice keeps getting bigger and bigger until the translator is done with his or her job. This is especially true for businesses that need content translated on a regular basis.

If you have important content that needs to be translated…

Hire a human.

If you send out an email or letter in another language, the recipient would be forgiving of translation errors, given the casual nature of the message.

Important business documents, on the other hand, can’t have a lot of translation errors. We’re talking about contracts and legal documents here. If one of your legal documents was inadequately translated by a machine, it can get thrown out of court.

Even localizing your website needs to be taken seriously. While a few grammatical errors on your website translated to another language won’t cause you legal headaches, you still want your foreign customers and clients to take your business seriously. When it comes to website localization, you might want to hire a human translator to take care of it.

It’s the 21st century and translation apps and software are excellent on their own, but they’re not perfect. While they can do word-to-word translations, they’re still not advanced enough to recognize grammatical structures, cultural references, and abstract concepts and manually correct the content to best reflect the concept in the translated language.

If you want to save money, you can use a free translation service like Google Translate and then have a human translator proofread it.

If the content contains sensitive information…

Get an app.

Computers don’t gossip or give up sensitive information. Humans do. We’re not saying that all human translators cannot be trusted, but when your content contains sensitive information, it’s always better to err on the side of caution. However, if you need an important document translated and you can’t afford to have any errors on it, you can always omit or replace the sensitive information like names, addresses, credit card numbers, or social security numbers and then change or add them back in after the document is translated.

If you’re pressed for time…

Get an app.

This is one of our favorite things about having a translation app. All of the translations are done in real time. That means you’ll get your translated document right away after submitting your original document. There’s no waiting time involved.

Human translators, on the other hand, require some time to personally translate the content for you. You’d have to put in a request, wait for the translator to review it and then give you a deadline, and then wait for him or her to complete the project. This could take a few days, or if it’s a big project, a few weeks.

If you need multilingual translation services…

Get an app.

Did you know that only 60% of people in the world know more than one language? A far smaller percentage of people are polyglots – people who can speak four or more languages. You’d be hard-pressed to find a human translator who can speak four or more languages, let alone all the languages you need your document to be translated to.

Most professional translators specialize in one or two particular languages. You’d have to spend a lot of time, money, and energy having your needs met by multiple translators while you could open up a translation app and have the same document instantly translated into as many languages as you want in only a few clicks.

If you have content that needs to be interpreted…

Hire a human.

Each language has its own idioms and sayings that would easily become lost in translation. To have all the subtleties of expression in your content translated properly, you need an interpreter, not a translator.

A translator simply translates the words in a sentence while an interpreter looks at the whole sentence and grasps its meaning before translating it in the most comprehensible way. An interpreter looks at the big picture.

Human translators are also interpreters. Machines are simply translators that can easily overlook idioms and sayings.

Ultimately… app or human?

The best way to figure out which type of translation service you need is to sort your priorities out and figure out which type of translator meets your business’s needs the best.


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