Translation quality is an interesting thing. It can be easy or impossible to evaluate, depending on your own languages skills. When the text is translated to your own native language, poor grammatical quality is fairly easy to see. When the text is translated to a language you don’t have any knowledge of, you cannot say a word about the translation quality. However, to be able to say whether the overall translation quality is good or not you should not only pay attention to the grammar of the translated text but you should also be able to check and understand the original text.
This all means that no one can truly evaluate the translation quality unless he or she has very good language skills. This dilemma makes me wonder the role of those people who buy translations. They may never get to know what they have purchased. The only thing they can rely on is the translator’s word, and trust becomes a prerequisite in any transaction between a translation buyer and provider.
Based on this observation, I would argue that the problem with machine translation is not the actual translation quality. Machine translation suffers from lack of reliability. If we don’t have the required knowledge to be able to proofread the automatic translation, there’s a risk involved in using the translation publicly. But if we aren’t able to trust the machine, it doesn’t matter whether the automatic translation is correct or not.
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