A few languages have dominated the majority of online content. If you wanted an access to all the interesting information available online, you should be able to read English, Russian, German, Japanese and the other top online languages. Very few of us can do that. Advanced translation technologies have been deployed to solve this issue of online language barriers. As a result, today we see more content in our own languages.
You may have noticed that many online services have moved from displaying the original content to using more automatic translations – well, automatically. This means that the users see more often an alternative option to ‘show original’ than to ‘show translation’. The translation has been externally chosen for us as the default option.
The negative aspect of this development is that we may not see other languages as much anymore. Knowing and using foreign languages is good to our brains and minds. It’s a challenge that improves our mental and intellectual capability. To some extent, language barriers are healthy to human beings.
The positive outcome is that we seen our own (minority) languages more than before. Education and language skills aren’t determining what information we have. The rapid and strong smart phone expansion has given internet access to people around the world. Machine translation continues to enhance the global equality.
All this changes the way we communicate. When we see our own languages more, it becomes a norm to us. People get used to see and write in their own language on the internet. When given an opportunity to communicate over the language borders with their own words, people prefer using their most strong languages. It’s faster to read and easier to understand.
Although the ultimate goal of machine translation development is to create a machine that could produce perfect translations, it’s not the most likely scenario. This is why machine translation and professional translation won’t become substitutes anytime soon.
The tolerance for imperfect translations is strong as long as we both know it is machine translation and learn to interpret them correctly. However, the imperfect translation still needs to be readable and good enough. When actively interacting with machine translated content, people will learn to recognize if something is translated automatically.
Today, when something is on the internet, it’s multilingual. Professional, good quality translation and localization is the only way for companies to control the quality of their content. Otherwise it will be machine translated or crowdsourced into other languages. Because we will get used to have it in our own language every time.
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