Why AI translation is here to stay and how it can benefit you


Artificial intelligence (AI) is becoming more popular than ever in business. Companies in every industry are leveraging it to deliver higher-quality outcomes in less time—the translation industry included.

In the article below, we’ll share what AI translation is and how it can maximize translation ROI for your brand.

AI translation defined

What do you think of when you hear the term “AI translation”? If machine translation (MT) comes to mind, you’re on the right track. But it also encompasses large language models (LLMs) and various other machine learning, deep learning, and natural language processing techniques. As a result, AI has applications across the entire translation workflow, even before and after the actual translation stage.

LanguageAI on Every Step

How can AI help with localization?

Here are just a few ways artificial intelligence can help with different aspects of the localization process.

Pre- or post-editing of text

Large language models are trained on datasets containing billions of parameters. Through natural language processing (NLP), they’re able to identify linguistic patterns and semantic relationships. This enables them to understand and replicate human language, which comes in handy for pre- and post-editing.

For example, Smartling’s GPT-enabled portal, Smartling Translate, takes your brand’s voice, style, and terminology into account in producing high-quality, accurate machine translation. In our GPT and Large Language Models webinar, we showed how you can use it for the following:

  • Correct spelling, grammar, punctuation, and capitalization errors
  • Adjust formality
  • Rephrase text

By using GPT to pre-edit content in the source language, the translated text output is higher quality. But you can also use large language models to smooth completed translations, improving their accuracy and fluency.

Content translation

Neural machine translation is currently the most prevalent form of MT, and we also see a lot of promise in LLMs. Both use neural networks that mimic the way the human brain works.

Rather than swapping out individual words based on pre-set rules, neural MT engines consider context to translate for the correct words. And they learn over time, allowing them to translate more accurately the longer the model is translating. Overall, they’re better than their predecessors—statistical MT models—at capturing the intended meaning of source text.

An example of machine translation in action is Smartling’s Neural Machine Translation (NMT) Hub, which is cloud-based machine translation driven by AI. The NMT Hub uses Autoselect to choose the best MT engine for your content, giving you the highest quality machine translations in a private and secure environment.

Workflow automation

With AI, you can also automate a variety of project management tasks, saving you a lot of manual work and decreasing the time to publish. Artificial intelligence can handle several tasks:

  • Assigning jobs
  • Reviewing and revising content
  • Submitting content
  • Rejecting content

Smartling’s Dynamic Workflows use AI to route content to the right step in the process based on conditions you set. As a result, Smartling customers on average have been able to automate 90% or more of their efforts.

How reliable is AI translation?

The higher the quality of training data (and user input), the more reliable AI is. The opposite is also true. This is why custom MT engines are so valuable: They’re trained on language specific to your company and domain via your translation memory and glossaries. As a result, they can output accurate, on-brand translations.

In contrast, it’s also why some large language models struggle with content translation. Many have limited training data in non-English target languages, making it more challenging to generate highly accurate, culturally-relevant translations.

It’s similar to AI used for process automation, which learns from patterns in training data. Whatever patterns you set, the AI will continue—for better or worse.

And, of course, your inputs also matter. Give an LLM a poorly-engineered prompt, and it will be harder to get the translation results you want. Give an MT engine a low-quality piece of content, and the translated version will likely have some of the same quality issues.

That said, when trained and used properly, AI technology can give you several advantages.

How an AI translator differs from a human translator

Why leverage artificial intelligence rather than sticking to the traditional human-driven translation process?


On any given day, your to-do list could include most or all of the following:

  • Sourcing vendors and vetting their translation services
  • Communicating with stakeholders, linguists and translation vendors, subject matter experts, and others
  • Prepping content for translation
  • Creating translation tasks and assigning the appropriate individuals at various stages of the process
  • Keeping tabs on the status of various translation jobs
  • Overseeing quality assurance (QA) and addressing issues that come up
  • Reviewing translation reports and identifying bottlenecks or optimization opportunities

All of this can take a good amount of time when done manually, and you probably have other responsibilities too! Incorporating more AI into your processes is the key to freeing your time to focus on the highest-impact activities.

As mentioned, most Smartling customers are able to automate the majority of their efforts. Many have even reached 99% and up thanks to AI-enabled TMS features.


Machine translation, in particular, costs a fraction of the price of human translation. The latter typically costs $0.15 to $0.30 per word. But MT often costs as little as $0.000010 per character, which can mean cost savings of tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. You can then reinvest that money into high-priority language translation projects or use it to support other business initiatives.


The time and cost savings associated with AI translation solutions also mean that these solutions are more scalable. You can expand into new markets and translate more of your content faster. And you can reinvest the money you save into larger localization efforts.


You might think professional translators have the ultimate advantage because they can capture emotion, consider context, and apply local and cultural expertise to translations. But incorporating AI into your processes can contribute to quality as well.

Automated quality checks can bring your attention to issues that need fixing. Quality estimation algorithms can alert you to translations that need review or revision, and help you quickly identify content that’s ready for publishing. Plus, thanks to time savings from leveraging AI, you’ll have more resources to dedicate to perfecting your quality assurance process.

The top 3 AI translation services and tools

Now that you have a better understanding of what AI translation is and its benefits, here are some AI-powered tools and services to look into.


Smartling has one of the most advanced translation management systems (TMSs) in the localization industry, enabling you to leverage AI across the entire localization process. It’s also one of the most highly rated by customers—it was rated the #1 pick for enterprise translation management on G2 for 17 quarters in a row.

Top features:

  • Neural machine translation: Manage your machine translation needs at scale via this multi-engine, AI-powered workspace capable of producing high-quality, consistent, and on-brand translations instantly.
  • Smartling Translate: Translate text and files securely in this self-service translation portal, which leverages GPT to improve translation quality and fluency.
  • Connectors and integrations: Connect Smartling with dozens of other apps and tools, including content management systems, automation tools, and more to streamline your translation workflows.


  • You can produce translations of up to 350% higher quality with the NMT Hub (thanks to our multi-machine translation engine approach).
  • With the help of AI, you can automate 90% or more of your translation workflows.
  • We take security seriously and provide a totally private and secure translation environment.


  • It can take time for some customers to get familiar with all of Smartling’s capabilities. But our Customer Success team is always happy to answer questions and give guidance to reduce the learning curve.


DeepL is among the most reliable neural MT engines in terms of consistent translation quality. It has several advanced features that make maintaining high quality standards easier such as the ability to choose from lists of alternative words and view definitions of words in the source and target language.

Top features:

  • Unlimited text translation: Translate as much text as you need to on any paid plan.
  • Tones: Choose between formal and informal tones to ensure that translated text is appropriate for your audience.
  • Computer-assisted translation (CAT) tool integration: Get DeepL’s high-quality translations in the translation results of other tools, such as Smartling.


  • In addition to being one of the most reliable neural machine translation engines, DeepL is also cost-effective, meaning you can get a higher translation ROI.
  • The Advanced and Ultimate plans allow you to create up to 2,000 glossaries with 5,000 entries each for greater accuracy.
  • Besides the web-based version, DeepL also has desktop and mobile apps.


  • DeepL supports fewer languages and, therefore, offers fewer language pairs than some alternatives.
  • Glossary support is only available for seven language pairs, although DeepL supports just under 30 languages.

Google Cloud Translation API

Google Cloud Translation API is the enterprise-friendly sibling of Google Translate and has two editions. Basic is mainly for short-form and user-generated content like social media content or chats. And the advanced edition is better suited for translating long-form content and doing various types of customization.

Top features:

  • Batch translation: Translate numerous source documents at once to save time.
  • AutoML technology: Train custom models to produce translations that use the right tone and terminology for your company and industry.

-__ Model selection: __Depending on the content and its context, you can dynamically choose between Google’s standard neural translation model or a custom model.


  • Both Translation API plans include unlimited translation, which makes them good for high-volume projects.
  • You can translate content into over 100 languages with this API, and thousands of language pairs are available.
  • This API makes programmatic text translation possible for your websites and applications.


  • Glossary support is only available via the Advanced edition, giving users of the Basic edition less control over terminology.
  • Some users feel this machine translation solution can be expensive if you have large amounts of text to translate.

Which one of these three options should you go with? Luckily, if you integrate top MT engines with Smartling, you don’t have to pick. You’ll get their quality translation results and enjoy the additional benefits of using our end-to-end TMS. This includes customization of machine translations using your glossaries and translation memory to apply your brand terminology, style, and preferences. And AI features that improve efficiency, reduce cost, and/or help with quality assurance at each stage of your workflow.

For a closer look at how the Smartling platform works and how you could use it to optimize your processes and results, watch our short, 5-minute demo.