The Cost of Machine Translation

[one_half]Machine translation revolutionized the translation industry back in the 1990s. Did they make human translators less important, or less well paid? Not really. Any hair stylist will tell you that 30% of their work revolves around correcting another hair stylist’s mistakes. It is the same with translators; almost a third of our work is correcting the mistakes a machine translation tool makes.[/one_half][one_half_last]






Cheaper Doesn’t Mean Better

People know that online machine generated translations are unreliable, but they still continue to use them. They are useful in a pinch, when dealing with large volumes of text, or when time isn’t in the translator’s favor. At face value, machine translation seems cheaper, easy to use, and fast. In the end, more often than not, the money and time spent on correcting the mistakes isn’t worth it.

Machine Translations Don’t Flow

Using a machine translation won’t go unnoticed. You don’t have to be a professional to tell that something is translated online; you just have to be a native speaker. Even if a translation is done seemingly well (a rarity), a verb, an idiom, or an inappropriate word will reveal the lack of human translators.

The Price is Cheap, and So Is the Quality

I was hired by a marketing company to fix their website, which was translated online. Several months later, I received an email from the manager saying that the number of Bulgarian clients increased by 50%, and their profit on the local market was up by almost 80%. This is an example of how, at first, using a machine translator might be appealing because it’s less expensive, but that saving up for a proper translation will gain your clients’ respect.

Frustration and Mistranslations

Using machine translations can cost not only money, but nerves as well .The risk of obtaining an incorrect translation when using a machine is very high. For example, a British expat living in Bulgaria decided to order a kitchen for his new flat, and since the company that he hired only had contracts in Bulgarian, he decided to run the contract through a translation machine. The problems he then had with the measurements, the delivery time, among other things, were almost innumerable. In the end, the company made an effort to fix the misunderstandings, but not before it stressed out both parties.

You Get What You Pay For

There are so many situations that allow for the use of machine translations, but there are also times when people cannot afford to use them, no matter the monetary expense. As a wise person once said: “I am not rich enough to buy cheap things.”

About Marieta Plamenova

I’m a native speaker of Bulgarian, living in Sofia. I have a graduate degree in law, and an undergraduate degree in economics. I primarily translate economic and legal content, but I also enjoy translating for tourism, sports, health, cooking, literature, and new technologies.