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Machine vs. Human Translation

Machine vs. Human Translation

Technology improves every day and whether Artificial Intelligence (AI) will replace human labor is a long-debated issue. Translation is among the professions threatened by the development of artificial intelligence since AI is being used to translate from one language to another. This process is known as Machine Translation (MT); in other words, it is the automated translation of a source language into a target language. The question is will machines replace human translators in the future? The answer is consolingly no (for now): AI will only enhance translators’ lives and be an ally.

Although some free tools such as Google Translate are useful in quick conversations, the human translator’s role is still at the forefront in the translation process. Simply translating words does not guarantee accuracy, as language and culture are two interwoven concepts. Thus, understanding a series of words forming sentences that build a complex text requires expertise in the source language as well as the culture. For this reason, the translator has to participate in the translation process to achieve a truly accurate result.

In today’s world, translators often benefit from machine translation tools as they are time-saving and helpful in ensuring consistency. However, it is the translator’s job to actively pre- and post-edit. Before placing the input in the tool, pre-editing requires editing and simplifying the source text. Then, the translator is responsible for checking the output and correcting the semantic and linguistic errors in the target text during the post-editing process. Thus, these tools only help the translator expedite the process and provide consistency, while the translator plays a vital role.

Although machines improve rapidly, humans are complicated creatures, and machines cannot fully take the place of human labor. Translators have nothing to fear as they will always be at the forefront of translation, and machine translation tools will only enhance their lives.


Advantages vs. Disadvantages of Machine Translation


  • Many free tools are available
  • Faster translation delivery
  • Ensures consistency
  • Cost-efficient
  • Translate between multiple languages using one tool
  • Inability to understand cultural nuances
  • Low level of accuracy
  • Hidden costs as the output requires post-editing by a professional

Free Machine Translation Tools

  • Microsoft Translator
  • Google Translate
  • Yandex
  • Amazon Translate
Machine vs. Human Translation