Is translation technology up to do the job?
Communicating in just one
language just isn't good
enough. As distance becomes
an inconvenience rather than
an insurmountable obstacle,
people not only travel more,
but they settle in different
parts of the world. Take
London for example: there are
more than eight million citizens
living in this city; do they all
speak just English? If you
thought the answer was yes,
then you were wrong. Most of
them speak two languages. London has a diverse range of peoples and cultures, which speak more
than 300 languages.
Being able to have a conversation in a different language is the result of a lot of time and hard work,
especially if you're older than 6. And if time means money, then not everybody has time to learn a
language properly. And even if they do, few of them can learn more languages. This raises the
question: How to communicate with other people if you don't know their language? I'm talking
about the Polish that you buy food from or the Indian that stays in the same queue as you. The
modern busy adult might think technology can help. No wonder there are so many translation apps
Translation technology only gives the gist of a conversation
In a recent video on the BBC Will the web's translation tech make us multilingual?, Lara Lewington
goes behind the scenes of translation technology and puts to the test the iTranslate and the Google
Translate apps. Both apps were 50% or less accurate in recognising the source language and
translating it into English. Some phrases were easily translated, others were incomprehensible. The
test conversation was indeed short, so the percentages might change for a longer dialogue.
Voice recognition carries some of the blame, but even after continuing the test by typing the words
to be translated, the results were not that satisfying. One can get the gist of a conversation using
translation apps, but having a normal conversation is out of the question for the moment.
Even in a perfect scenario, where voice recognition works perfectly or it is totally skipped by typing
the words, and being online or offline is not a variable, one might still be disappointed with what
Will we ever have a conversation through translation technology?
For the moment all technological software for translation do work pretty well when only the general
idea of a phrase or of a short paragraph is enough. However, when it comes to longer content, even
the basic one - not just the legal, medical or financial - still need professional translators. Only a
specialist can translate something without losing the context.
Qualitative translation services
As a professional translation company, we use computers and software (Translation Memory) only
to help our work. The quality of our services is based on human intelligence. After the initial
translation is completed, another individual – a second pair of specialised eyes – will check our work.
Our translation project managers then quality-check each and every translation before they deliver it
back to the client. This includes checking page layouts, line endings and ensuring no sections have
been left out, plus a host of other last minute checks dependent on clients’ needs.