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Published: 25th July 2012
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“Why do we need manual translation in this era of machines and technology?”
This phrase is commonly heard when people are introduced to the use and significance of translation services. Let’s talk about the fundamental principles of these two different types of translation.
Machine Translation often abbreviated as MT is the subcategory of computational linguistic that investigates the use of software to translate the text and speech from one natural language into another. The traces of machine translation can be found as far back as 17th century when Rene Descartes in 1629 proposed an idea of universal language with equivalent ideas in different languages sharing one symbol. However new era of machine translation begun in 1946 when A.D. Booth (and possibly) others proposed an idea of using digital computer for translation, but the idea was first implemented in 1954 under Georgetown experiment during which sixty Russian sentences were translated into English. This was the first time when computer (IBM 701 mainframe) was used for translation.
After the success of Georgetown project claim was made that the problem of machine translation will be solved within three to five years. However the real progress was much slower than anticipated and as per report published by ALPAC (Automatic Languages Processing Advisory Committee) – established by US Government in 1964 – in 1966 found that ten year long research has failed to fulfill expectation of the research. In late 1980s, as computational power increased and became less expensive more interest was shown in statistical models of machine translation. As results there were different devices were introduced starting with digital dictionary and later digital pocket translator. Since then different technologies have been introduced and different devices has been designed to translate out of which few are listed below:
1. Handheld Electronic Translators
2. Pocket PC
3. Palm OS
4. Smartphone Translation Software


Language is not merely a subject. The language has its essence deeply rooted into the culture, history and literature of the particular country. There are a number of factor deterring the language of a particular country:

Sociolinguistic Factors
Psycholinguistic Factors
Therapeutic Factors
Chain reaction Factors

It is not an easy job to provide accurate translation. It involves the synonyms, antonyms, idioms and many different parts of speech when translating from one language into the targeted language.

Even though Machine Translation can translate all the words in the documents accurately and is very cost effective, but it is up to the reader to make the sense out of the translated draft. So racist slur that seriously offended customers in Toronto, Canada.machine translation can be used by Human translator to decrease the work load but it requires translator to manually review and restructure the document to provide appropriate structure to the document. As Cavalier describes in his article:

“in many cases, MT can definitely be used to automate the first translation (draft) stage and quite often completely removes the need for undertaking any second (post-editing) phase”
.on another occasion in the same article Cavalier describes how using machine translation for initial draft can benefit by decreasing the cost and increasing the efficiency of human translator. One another writer Vitek explains why machine translation cannot be replaced by quality translation prepared by humans. He says:
“ Machine translation is a useful tool for human translators, it’s less expensive than human translators, and the process is faster. However, Cavalier concludes that machine translations should only be used for limited purposes. According to Cavalier, “free or low-cost services may be fine for finding out whether the information is of any interest (i.e. browsing),” but researchers should use “manual translations when higher quality translations (e.g. legal translation) are required”.
However, Vitek also highlights the main reason why machines can’t replace humans when it comes to creating high-quality translations:

The Problem is that the machine does not understand the meaning of the document at all. Therefore, although most of the technical terms used by a machine will be correct, it is up to the reader to make sense of those words haphazardly jumbled up together by a non-thinking machine.

Another recent article by Adam Wooten of the Deseret News, “Google Translate has great uses, disastrous misuses,” discusses some of the consequences of glitch machine translations:

A newspaper mistranslation repeatedly misquoted a former president of Kazakhstan as referring to the important issue of ‘passing gas.’ Israeli journalists nearly sparked an international incident when they seemed to insult a Dutch diplomat’s mother in a machine-translated message. Finally, an automatically translated furniture tag contained a

Thus it must be concluded that machine translation is appropriate for reference and informational purposes but it is not reliable or filing or legal assignments. A machine can create a rough translation of vocabulary and grammar but the humans can translate the meaning and structure of the document. MT can never replace human translation because it cannot transform your original language source into virtually identical target language result.

About Languages Pro: (ATA CERTIFIED)
Languages Pro is a translation agency headquartered out of Seattle, WA. We provide translation services and interpreter resources in over 200 languages to individuals and corporations all over United States and some corporations internationally. The mission of Languages Pro is to become the most trusted translation agency to provide quality focused translation services and interpreting resources in the shortest time possible to all of our clients.
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