Don Quixote & Sancho Panza, BrusselsMachine translation is a hot topic all around the web. The tone of the discussion is often negative. Machine translation is argued to have such quality issues that the best it can produce are funny translation mistakes to laugh at. The jokes are amusing but overall we think that this kind of conversation has gone astray.

Machine translation is a tool for human beings. It is a machine to automate work that previously has been done by a man. It is created to make our lives easier. During the history there have been plenty of cases like this when a machine has been developed to ease the work of a man. Always there has been opposition against such innovations but when time has gone by these machines have found their places. This will happen to machine translation as well. And it is not a bad thing.

Just like photography has not replaced painting completely and cars have not driven horses to extinction, machine translation will not decimate the profession of translation. Machine translator is not a threat to professional translators. So there is no point of tilting at windmills. The more important thing is to find the best ways to use machine translation.

Because machine translation is not able to do the job of the professional translators, it should not be used that way. If the text is very important and your tolerance for translation mistakes is close to zero, hire a human to do the job. If it is enough to understand the idea of the text and time is your most limited resource, machine translation is a great help.

On could argue that all translation cases are too important for automatic translation. However there are many kinds of communication around us every day which are informal and less important in terms of translation quality. Or would you hire a professional translator to translate your every email, sms, tweet, blog article, letter, web page, status update, guide and so on? Best machine translation can do the job quickly, cheaply and with good enough quality. And you can always have a professional translator to post-edit the automatic translation if needed.

How and when do you use machine translation?


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