While machine translation is improving and becoming a well-known tool all over the world, there is still strong opposition running against the tide. They argue that publicly used incorrect machine translation is changing languages too much and especially not in a good way. It is true that only professional translators and native speakers are able to evaluate the quality of the automatically translated text, and others can rely only on their own knowledge or on an automatic quality check.

The situation is similar to when SMS became the most popular communication tool. Shortened expressions and word combinations were basically ruining the language skills of the young generation – at least according to the negative force. Whatever the circumstances, development and changes can be scary but usually, they are inevitable and even useful.

Languages have been, are, and will be developing constantly. If you watch a really old movie you probably find the way the characters speak old-fashioned. Likewise old books and other linguistic material clearly represent their time, not ours. Like the human population, languages have a history; an ongoing story with past, present, and future. For example, linguists and scientists agree that irregular verbs are more or fewer relics from the past. I’m sure that we all are glad that today we need to study difficult irregular verb inflections because some people stopped the development by refusing to renew their language centuries ago.

So, is machine translation ruining our languages? I don’t think so, but we are definitely changing the rules of languages by using new tools like machine translation. Whether the development is good or bad is not relevant. And if needed, machine-translated text can always be proofread by a professional, human translator. Right?

What do you think about the relationship between language development and machine translation?