American Language Services has been at the forefront of translation technology for over 35 years. While other translation agencies shrink away from machine translations, or frankly do not want to discuss it out of fear it may take away business from them, we are fully aware and understand its advantages and obvious limitations. Knowledge is power, we do not fear technology, we embrace it. The impact of AI and other computer aided technology can be felt across all 150+ of our languages and in with all of our key verticals. Our early adoption allowed us greater insight into the many myths and questions that surround machine translation.
In the below sections, we’ll discuss what exactly machine translation is, how it works, and why we’re not afraid of it.
The Current State of the Machine Translation Market
With online shopping and distance messaging eroding the importance of borders, many organizations are going global. This fact has led to an increased demand for instant and affordable translations. And it’s not just a small uptick in demand either. The W.P. Carey School of Business has found that the volume of global business data online will double every 1.2 years. In its current state, the existing network of translation providers would not be enough to handle this influx. Machine translators and machine aided systems by Google, Trados and others helps to enhance the translation process and fill in the gaps.
Though current machine translators are nowhere near as accurate as their human counterparts, many firms are opting to swap quality for cost savings and speed. Sometimes a machine translation, which is certainly is not going to be great, or can be used directly as evidence in a legal case, may just be good enough to do the trick. At least you can know the gist of what is being written and for review purposes it may work out for you. Below are a few stats that drive home the growing importance of machine translators in the global market:
- Global Market Insights estimates that the machine translation market will grow by more than 19 percent by 2024
- Over 40 percent of today’s content is translated by machine with zero human intervention
- Google Translate processes more words a day than all the professional translators in the world could do in a month
What Are Machine Translators (MT)?
Machine translators are a set of tools that lets you input content via computer software, from one language to obtain faster output. This process takes minutes, sometimes, instead of hours with human translators. Because they’re about 80-90% percent automated, many of the most popular MTs out there are utilized.
Speed and reducing costs can be important at times, however, with MT, this lower price comes at a quality cost. Because of difficulties translating metaphors and feelings-driven content, experts estimate that accuracy rates for automated translation currently hovers around 70-80% percent. As technology continues to improve—and neural technologies become more commonplace—the number of errors is expected to decrease.
Popular machine translators include:
- Google Translate
- Yandex Translate
- Amazon Translate
- Bing Translate
Types of Machine Translators
- Rule-Based: Much more manual than the two types outlined below, RBMT systems rely on a system of algorithms to get the job done. When launched, these systems are pre-loaded with countless rules about syntax, grammar, and phraseology about a given language. Though heavy on manual labor, this type of MT ensures consistency. Often called first-generation MT, this type is slowly losing out to the other two.
- Statistical: With the rise of big data, this type of MT became possible. By frontloading lots of parallel texts into the system, these tools can find patterns between reference and ending texts. Based on these trends, it then calculates which outcome is the most suitable. While faster than RBMT, statistical MTs depend heavily on the availability of accurate reference materials. This makes them a poor choice for speakers of rarer languages.
- Neural: These MT systems are designed to mimic human learning processes and gain more knowledge over time. The more they’re used, the better the result. Because they work to understand the context of what’s being translated, they’re better able to select the right word from a pool of similar ones. One day, these systems will make up the vast majority of the MT market.
When Should You Use Machine Translation?
While machine translation has come a long way since 1967, it’s not a panacea. There are some cases where using an MT can hurt your market share and erode consumer trust. That doesn’t mean it’s the perfect solution for every situation, however. To determine whether a human solution or an automated one is better suited to your task, ask yourself the following questions:
|Is This Content Key to My Success?||When a piece of content is important to your success, it’s best to go with a human translator.||Machine translation might work.|
|Is the Target Audience Vital||If it’s a brand-new market or large customer segment, you’ll want to use a human translator.||When the person reading the content won’t be harmed by a few typos, you can go with MT.|
|Can You utilize different types of electronic formats (PDF, Word, Excel, etc.) with MT?||Machine translations are very limited in this capacity and it is one of the largest drawbacks using it.||Human translators are capable of doing so much more then MT with their knowledge, experience, and enhanced tools.|
|Is the Context Legal or Medical in Nature?||Hire someone with expertise in these fields||Machine translation might be an acceptable alternative for limited usage|
|Is There a Lot of Content?||When you’re looking to translate a lot of content quickly, MT is the way to go.||Which translation type is best depending on the type of content involved?|
|Is It Simple Content?||Machine translators might be enough.||Policies & Procedures, Legal, Handbooks, Training Manuals, Compliance Matter|
Human Reviewer + MT = Utopia
Just because a project seems perfect for MT doesn’t mean you should cut out humans completely. In most cases, the magic happens when firms are open to combining the two. This both streamlines the process and ensures that the algorithms didn’t make a gaffe or two. There are two main ways to do this:
- In the first, the machine translator does most of the heavy lifting. The human translator then goes through the produced content and checks for readability and completeness. This method is best suited for highly repetitive content.
- The second method has the human do most of the heavy listing. The MT is then used to double check the copy for consistency and punctuation. This cuts down on proofing time—which is great when you consider that proofing doubles turnaround times but is only needed in four percent of jobs.
At American Language Services, we use both of the above techniques to ensure we produce high-quality content at an affordable rate.
About American Language Services
Since our founding in 1985, we have grown from a one-person show to a multi-location translation powerhouse. Our willingness to embrace new technologies—like machine translation—certainly helped. Our language experts provide a full range of language services in over 200 languages. More importantly, like Google Translate, we’re available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
AML-Global possesses some of the most impressive linguistic talents in the world. These highly skilled language professionals are recruited, screened and tested to ensure high-quality work.
By paying meticulous attention to detail, AML-Global has earned an outstanding reputation for providing cost-effective, high quality and seamless language services.
Contact us by email at email@example.com or via phone at 1-800-951-5020 for a free estimate.