Automatic translation is becoming more popular all the time. In this context the word ‘popular’ refers to the fact that it is widely used in many situations and for many purposes. The users of Google Translate write and paste unbelievable amounts of texts to the machine every day. Skype introduced the feature of automatic translation for calls. Twitter is developing some kind of machine translation possibility for tweets. The list goes on and on.
But is machine translation popular in a sense that people like it? That’s a whole other question. We have been running a small scale study of how people feel about machine translation quality. The study isn’t statistically significant yet but still the results already tell a lot. People like and hate automatic translation. The perceived quality is a highly subjective matter. Between almost any languages the perceived quality can be anything between 0 and 100 (as percentage of correct translations).
Based on these results it’s impossible to say whether machine translation truly is popular among ordinary people. Nevertheless, what can be said is that people are willing to test automatic translation. The possible benefit of saving time, effort and some money is a strong motivator. It doesn’t cost much to try, and if it isn’t good enough for their needs it easy to find some other solution.
So, today automatic translation solutions are common in the online world. Automatic translation is often just one click away. The more different translation technologies are developed the more available they are. Machine translation can even be the only translation source someone knows. It may feel too difficult to find out how and where professional translations services operate.
Globalization has created the need for translations. It’s easy, fast and even affordable to order products and services from the other side of the globe. Those people who need automatic translation are rarely the same people who have previously bought professional translation services. For example, machine translation often helps when the product is shipped with a foreign product manual or user guide. This kind of ‘new translation demand’ creates popularity around automatic translation.
This is why machine translation popularity or wide use doesn’t seem to make professional translation less popular. During the last few years, translation industry is one of the few industries which haven’t been suffering from the changes in the economical environment.
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