🏳️‍🌈 Google vs Human Translators?!


Written by: Razvan

We all know Google Translate by now, and how it facilitates communication across countries and language barriers at every second of the day. Also with businesses moving more and more into the digital world, this has become a vital aspect of keeping a business prosperous!

A Love and Hate Relationship

Some of us hate Google’s translator for the unreliable results it produces, while others love it for the laughter moments that brighten their days. However, Google makes constant efforts in improving it, bringing the game to a level that makes its translator score almost like a human translator!

Many people use it online to access and read websites written in languages they don’t fully understand or to communicate with freelance contractors when hiring them. Moreover, with the rise of smartphones, it has opened our changing world to limitless opportunities when interacting with people of all nations.

At the same time, Google Translate is known to produce some weird or funny looking translations. There are also instances where a piece of the interpretation can go so wrong that it can destroy a relationship or make one lose a business opportunity, especially if it goes viral on social networks!

Machine vs. Humans

While Google Translate was designed with all the grammar & spelling rules in mind, it still fails to convey the true meaning of a written piece. Not to mention that being too strict about rules can sometimes lead to results that are a bit strange (especially when using idioms)

However, Google is getting better at translations with the rise of artificial intelligence, natural language processing, machine learning, and all that fancy, almost Sci-Fi concepts. So, which one should you use in the end? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each one since there’s a fine line between them.

Google Translate Pros

  • it’s a free service, allowing instant translations that get the point across and help you understand what a piece is about, especially when speed is of the essence;

  • easy to use on the go with a smartphone, aiding in informal & casual chats;

  • human translators use it as an alternative to those humongous dictionaries;

  • with the help of browser add-ons, one can easily navigate and understand websites written in any language, further facilitating access to information;

  • a source of a good laugh, although this should be more of a con; but still, we need to laugh once in a while, right?

Google Translate Cons

  • not usable in real-time discussions or conferences;

  • it cannot translate the human tone, emotions or feelings of a piece of text (think poetry, which will probably give you the best laugh upon translation)

  • using wrong or rare synonyms that don’t help the text, making it sound strange and lack overall consistency;

  • it still scratches its head when translating idioms and metaphors;

  • can produce embarrassing and unreliable errors that can quickly ruin brands, businesses & relationships, as well as introduce cultural conflicts (but believe me, it’s not on purpose; machines don’t try to divide us, at least not yet!)

  • lack of online confidentiality — when you give Google a piece of text you agree to their terms to store it on their servers, and who knows how it’s going to be used;

  • it doesn’t have support for every language in the world.

Human Translation Pros

  • you get accurate, professional, fluent and native-sounding translations that convey the true meaning of the works;

  • guaranteed consistent translation across an entire interpretation;

  • ability to offer real-time translations in conferences or other multinational gatherings;

  • careful use of words, synonyms, expressions and idioms based on the translated work’s theme and tone;

  • humans respect law and confidentiality as they don’t want any trouble, so your sensitive text is as safe as law permits;

  • knowledge of the cultural language differences, which help avoid cultural conflicts or misunderstandings in translations;

  • you can find translators for rare or even extinct languages.

Human Translation Cons

  • unless you find a volunteer translator, human effort isn’t free and can be quite pricey; think about all the knowledge & skills a translator has to acquire over years or decades of study, and the time they have invested in becoming a certified translator;

  • it’s time-intensive as it involves writing drafts, which then have to be checked, edited & proofread;

  • no two human-performed translations will be the same, either because of misinterpretations, limited knowledge in a particular field or lack thereof.

By the looks of it, the pros of human translation outweigh those of machine translations, just like the cons of machine translations outweigh those of human interpretations.

OK, so machine translation is far from being perfect, sometimes it’s even far from being usable. However, it has its proven advantages, which sometimes make it easily outweigh a human translator! Moreover, with constant advances in artificial intelligence, it’s most likely a matter of time (a great deal of time!) before we begin talking naturally to robots in any language.

So who wins the battle? Neither machines nor humans. It honestly depends on the context in which a translation is needed. As a general rule, never use machine translations for official or professional purposes, only for casual communication and quick assistance with a piece of text.

Who knows, maybe the machines from the future will not replace humans in this field as we fear, but instead they can work hand in hand — imagine humans editing, proofreading and supervising machine translations!