ULG’s Language Solutions Blog

4 Common Machine Translation Myths Debunked

Machine translation (MT) certainly gets a lot of media hype - some deserved, some not. Read on to learn the truth behind 4 of the most common beliefs about MT.

Machine translation myth #1: The best-known machine translation tool is the best machine translation tool.

For many, "machine translation" means "Google Translate." But, while there's no question that it's the best-known MT tool, it's far from the only option, and it may not be the best choice for your business. Depending on your industry, a lesser-known MT tool may give better, more consistent results, especially if the tool can be customized for your business.

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Machine translation myth #2: Machine translation has made human translators irrelevant.

This is one of the oldest and most persistent myths about machine translation. Despite the claim that the latest neural machine translation (NMT) technology is "almost indistinguishable" from human translation, human translation remains the gold standard. For example, in a 2017 showdown between human translators and 3 popular translation programs, humans outperformed machines by 10 points or more.

As Common Sense Advisory put it, "NMT output is more fluent than the older system and is almost at the level of bad or preliminary human translation, but it's not on the level with good quality human translation."

Machine translation myth #3: Human translation is always superior.

On the other hand, while everyone loves to laugh at bad machine translations, machine translation has made remarkable improvements during the past few years, and it does offer specific advantages to businesses. It's usually faster than human translation, and more affordable.

Machine translation myth #4: It's machine translation versus human translation, an either/or choice.

Everybody loves a good man versus machine story. For example, consider the famous story of John Henry versus the steam-powered hammer, or more recently, the chess match between Garry Kasparov and Deep Blue. As noted above, recent media coverage of artificial intelligence (AI)-fueled MT has tended toward the sensational, claiming that computers will soon put translators out of work.

But the reality is decidedly less dramatic. In today's world, and for the foreseeable future, humans and computers work together to translate content more quickly, accurately, and affordably than ever before. The key is to design a workflow that harnesses the strengths of each type of translation. When you combine the speed and consistency of machine translation tools with the linguistic and subject matter expertise of a human translator, you get the best of both worlds.

Get the best of both worlds - combine machine and human translation.

At ULG we use machine translation to improve speed and turnaround time in a variety of different contexts. For example, machine translation is an invaluable part of our eDiscovery process, making it possible to sift through large amounts of data quickly and find relevant documents for our legal translators to translate.

We also offer customizable machine translation solutions for businesses that could save your organization between 35% to 98% of the cost of full human translation. And our OctaveTM technology suite combines machine translation with post-editing by our expert linguists into an automated workflow. What does that mean to you? It ensures human-level accuracy, saves up to 35% in translation costs and reduces manual resource drain by up to 50%.

Does that sound good to you? Then give us a call at 1.800.737.8481.


Machine Translation, MT, Myths About Machine Translation

Topics: Translation, Service