|Human Translation Online|
The continuing plethora of new translation software packages have, without doubt, transformed the world of international communication, especially in the areas of “consistency” and speed. However, speed is of diminished importance when “consistency” and ease of understanding is called into question because of past and current attempts. All of us are aware that any software can be programmed to calculate the sum of 2 plus 2 equals 5 – and it will continue to do this “consistently” and extremely quickly until some form of human translation (online or off-line) intervenes. In an environment where language (any language) is continually developing, it becomes difficult to maintain pace with introduction (and universal understanding) of the latest (temporary) buzzword or catch phrase especially before we even take into consideration such minor difficulties as vernacular or dialect. Software translation will always suffer because of the lack of involvement of facial expression, hand gestures or tone inflexion which have become essential for us to understand each other. Even expensive and sophisticated software packages cannot match the standard produced by the human translation (online or off-line) of people from one language into their native tongue.
A recent survey of business-related translation packages indicates that the best package the reviewers could find still revealed basic grammatical errors. Synonyms were misunderstood and idiomatic language produced utter garbage in the translated version. The software suffered from an additional difficulty with the capitalisation of words which is treated differently (and inconsistently) by various cultures. Resultant software translations suffered from confusion over the use of tenses and the inclusion (or exclusion of the definite article) which often depended on the language pair being used. The conclusions of the review were that this “Best of type” package still fell far short of an acceptable standard of effective business communication that could be produced by human translation (online or off-line). They indicated if this software standard were used in any form of sales-orientated manner, the result would probably work negatively on the understanding of the potential customer.
The second-best package the reviewers could find produced more than 10% discrepancies or misunderstandings in all translations. In the opinion of the reviewers, this would work negatively on business communications, which would not be good in a non-sales letter and would be less than useless for any formal or legal agreement where understanding is essential.
These results do not surprise. Although few human beings are fluent in more than one language, what chance does a computer stand when confronted with seven billion people speaking several hundred different languages with a typical vocabulary of approximately fifty thousand words – all different – and we have not mentioned the multiplicity of dialects yet? The computation alone would necessitate an inordinate bank of Cray computers, but is well within the capabilities of human translation (online or off-line). It is a recognised fact that the human brain far outstrips any computer for expandability and adaptability – in the same way that a Colt 45 will always beat a “full House”. Only a native speaker of a language fully understands the flow, syntax, and idiomatic nuances of their language and culture. Only a person speaking the language from childhood will fully understand the implications of a particular combination of words or phrases. In addition, no programme that can understand any form of humour is near completion yet.
We pride ourselves on the standard of our work. We would not even contemplate using any form of software package because they merely cannot come close to what is acceptable or understandable to our clients or us.