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Is machine translation ready to replace human translators?

Today the rapid technological advancement inevitably leads to considerable progress in machine translation tools. While some tools can translate entire essays with a simple click, the question is whether this is really the future of translation in the linguistic aspect, providing adequate translations in terms of both the source text and its context.

Those who are not involved specifically with language in their daily work often believe that every word in the Slovenian, English, German, Spanish or any other language has a single equivalent in another foreign language, regardless of the context. But translators and everyone else who is in constant touch with languages knows that this is not the case.

A good translation is defined as a translated content that reads fluently in the target language, which means a translator has to be creative and persistent in order to provide the correct word order and attract the target audience without affecting the meaning of the original. When delivering the translation, the following is of key importance: A good translation must preserve the meaning of the original. Only a human translator is capable of considering the cultural sensitivity, recognising a language as a system and determining the tone of voice in the original text.

However, not everything is black and white as online translation tools can have certain advantages. Currently, the most popular online translation tool is Google Translate, with free use as its main upside. The ability of online translation is to automatically recognise the source language and provide the target in a single click. However, the machine translation does not support all languages and translates mostly individual words rather than entire sentences, which is why the content and the meaning of the original often get lost in translation.

While it is true that translation companies are more expensive than online translation tools, human translators spend considerably more time analysing every single phrase and collocation to provide the most adequate translation in line with the usability and context. Furthermore, they are often specialised in specific fields, which means they have in-depth knowledge of the relevant terminology and can provide a meaningful translation that reads naturally in the target language.

It can therefore be said that, while machine translation has its advantages since it is fast and free to use, its output often lacks proficiency and can sometimes even be completely inefficient. If looking for a high quality and fluent translation, it is still best to choose translators “made of flesh and blood”, who can transfer a message across cultures and languages more effectively.

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