Computers and machines are designed to help humans finish necessary tasks, to make obligations easier, and to save time. But no matter how much scientists try, computers and artificial intelligence don’t operate the same way as humans – especially not in the case of machine translation.
The Human Element
When considering the benefits of machine versus human translation, the human element weighs heavily on any decision. Software can translate many words quickly, and it can make grammatical changes because the basic rules of translation and grammar are embedded in its programming. Still, it cannot express the meaning of a sentence as well as a human translator can.
Machines can’t understand the context a sentence is used in because they run strictly on a set of defined rules. Often, computers will not translate accurately because they cannot understand the culture of the people who speak a language, the dialects, anecdotes used, and other nuances only a human could pick up on.
How Does Machine Translations Affect Us?
Take movie subtitles, for example. When you are connected to the Internet and are watching a movie on a computer, most movie player programs offer subtitles in different languages. Generally, the subtitles are machine translations that are created in a few minutes. If you understand the original language and are reading the subtitles, you will often find that you are reading a set of unrelated words that only transfers the basic meaning of the original words.
Computer translating programs that function as language dictionaries are also worth looking at. In many situations, these can help translators achieve better results. Nevertheless, they can’t finish the job entirely. Any attempt to completely replace human translation with machine translation will likely fail because no machine is capable of replicating exactly what humans do.
If you are unsure whether to use a computer or a human translator for a project, the odds are that using a human translator will be your best bet. We may end up like people in the movie Voyager some day, with chips installed in our heads that will enable us to understand each other, regardless of our native languages. It seems like a far off possibility, though. We’ll just have to wait and see how much humans and machines are able to approximate each other in every level of intelligence.