With the entering of Artificial Intelligence in almost all spheres of life, time and again we encounter this question; can machines really replace humans? There could be areas where they can and they are; however, if we evaluate the field of translation, humans have an edge.
At the first glance, machine translation might seem to be a great way of saving money and time, but when the requirement is of quality and authenticity, there is no replacing humans.
The basic and the most important difference between machine translation versus human translation would be the unique power humans have of thought and feelings. Machines first analyze the structure of each term in the source language, break them down, and then reconstruct them in the target language; however, since each language has a different structure, feel, and understanding to it, machines cannot deliver the real essence of the text translated and hence cannot be relied upon.
Let’s take an example; Braces means devices for straightening teeth in the US but means suspenders in the UK; now imagine what the machine translation would do in case asked to translate food stuck in the braces. Fancy dress means formal attire in the US and a costume in the UK.
Machine translation may be used for small, non-crucial projects which requires only a general understanding; but for a wider audience, human translation is essential. Machine translations are gaining ground to some extent in Legal translations or even technical translations; however, even here a human quality check and analysis is required. Without a strict quality check, both legal and technical translations can have serious implications.
The main limitation of machine translation is that machines are incapable of interpretation. Only humans can understand and interpret the nuances of different cultures, regions, and people. There can be certain elements of culture and belief that exists only in the source language but might be totally absent in the target language. A human translator can attempt to decipher this difference and put forth a best possible interpretation.
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