All Things Localization / Globalization / Language Technology

Human Translation vs. Machine Translation: Interview with Anna Paolucci, Translator

Today, we sat down with CSOFT Translator, Anna Paolucci, to learn about her experience with machine translation (MT).

  1. Can you describe the differences between “human translation” and “machine translation”?

Well, if “machine translation” is used, it should only be the first step taken during translation. MT is a process that translates a source quickly to be immediately used.

In contrast, “human translation” is a high quality translation that consists of a more complete understanding of the source text. In my opinion, while machine translation will translate the text, human translation is required to truly convey the tone and message of the piece.

  1. What is the most bizarre thing that has happened to you when working with machine translation?

I’ve noticed that when translating text, MT sources often struggle to detect the agreement between nouns and verbs. This leads to some very strange translations that often make no sense.

  1. What’s been the single most useful tool you’ve used throughout your career as a translator?

Definitely Trados; the computer aided translation (CAT) tool. Trados is software where the source language is on the left and target is on the right. The major advantage of Trados is its ability to keep similar translations in a ‘translation memory’, which is a major time-saver.

  1. What type of translation technology do you believe would make your work easier?

Well, currently we have a QA program called xBench. However, it often mixes up the masculine and feminine nouns in Italian and it would be great to see an updated version of this.

  1. As a professional translator, has machine translation had a positive or negative impact on your work?
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Well, machine translation has the advantage of being able to give out an initial translation very quickly. However, this is a rough translation and it usually needs to be given to translators to polish.

  1. In the future, do you believe a machine is more likely to either take your job or continue to assist you?

Definitely not; from a translator’s point of view, machines will continue to assist us but it’s impossible for them to replace us.

  1. What do you think are some misconceptions that people have about human translation, especially professional translators?

Most people believe that if you speak a foreign language, you can also translate. This isn’t true at all though. To be a professional translator requires years of study at a university level. Translators also must be incredibly efficient.

There is no doubting that machine translation, which offers instant translation, has transformed the localization industry. However, as Anna states, unless machines can begin to understand the context and culture of a text, human translators will always prevail as the better translation option.

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CSOFT International is a translation, localization, and globalization services provider that helps international businesses reach out to customers around the world.

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