Is the Art of Translation Dying?


It’s been a while…

Translation has been around for as long as humankind and so have translation issues. They are said to have started with the building of Babel. Translation has played a crucial role for tradesmen and merchants, sailors, scholars and clergy alike. Translation has even been used by teachers as one of the main strategies in teaching foreign languages.

Endangered Art

But is the Art of Translation becoming an endangered species? With the rapid development of Machine Translation tools such as Google Translate, people all over the world have learnt that translation issues can now be solved with one click of the mouse (or a tap on your smartphone touchscreen). More and more have relied on these services for their daily language needs including translating text messages, emails, business correspondence and more recently even whole websites.

Is Machine Translation good enough?

So do we really need human translators anymore? The answer is probably not as easy as we might expect. On the one hand, Machine Translation meets most everyday translation needs for a large majority of language users. On the other hand, certain industries such as publishing, manufacturing, healthcare, insurance or law still rely heavily on human translators to guarantee highest possible quality of their materials and to exceed their customers’ expectations.

What should you expect from a Translation Agency?

Translation for industries such as the ones listed above requires impeccable accuracy including style, grammar and spelling but above all they need to be written in a way that takes into account all the nuances of the source and target languages, cultural implications, legal aspects, etc. As customers, we expect the manual for our newly purchased flat screen TV to be accurate just as we would not want to suffer the consequences of an inaccurately translated agreement or a title deed or a will for that matter.

Lost in Translation

We have all experienced too many times inadequate, funny or even embarrassing translations on product descriptions or manuals, in advertising, on websites, road signs, notice boards, etc. You will find some truly hilarious examples of badly translated Chinese in an article Chinese Signs That Got Seriously Lost in Translation. The only way to avoid mistakes like these still seems to be hiring a professional human translator, especially if you want to impress your clients, and not embarrass yourself!

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