Can machine translation replace human translators?

26th July 2014

In the modern world, the internet is one of the most significant tools available and used for many purposes, one being translation. Technology has allowed our world to become more connected, yet disconnected at the same time. With various devices and applications available, latest innovations to Google translate, Skype and several other translation apps available to the human market, the question of whether machine translation can replace a human is perfectly valid.

Very recently everybody was talking about a new device called Google Gesture:- an electronic wristband that measures the wearer’s muscle activity, recognising sign language symbols and speaking them through an Android device. It could quite literally give signers a voice. While the idea was incredible, it turns out this concept is completely fictional and the advert was done by advertising students and submitted to Future Lions in Cannes. You can watch it here.

Two weeks ago phone market giant, Apple announced it is hiring a team of experts and researchers to ramp up Siri’s next-generation software, which is said to work with neural network algorithms. This will make it much easier for the service to learn and understand spoken language with human-like speed.

The guidebook publisher Frommer has launched a new translation app that covers both linguistic and cultural interpretations. This free app is a partnership between Frommer and the language translator app company TripLingo. The latter provides instant language translation including a voice translator, available in 45 languages, that allows the user to speak a sentence in English.

Further example is Unbabel, a combination of technology and crowd-sourced human translation. Because human languages are very complex and nuanced, Unbabel first uses computers to translate a customer’s inquiry, and then splits it into micro-tasks for its human translators to refine and check for errors. Unbabel then puts the text together and sends it back. Customers can send and receive their text through email, online, or through Unbabel’s API.

All of this is great, but only for a spoken or sign language, not written translation. These apps come in handy when you go travelling to a foreign country and want to either understand the language or read signs and descriptions. It just couldn’t get easier. Apps such as Word Lens allow you to instantly translate printed words with your phone’s camera.

When it comes to a document translation or market research translation, where accuracy and standards are imperative, applications are not going to be of much use. This is when you need to work with Foreign Tongues Translation and let them do the work – to ensure correctness and proficiency.

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