Machine Translation Explained - Pros and Cons 
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Machine Translation Explained – Pros and Cons 

Thinking of entering the Polish market? The key lies in translating your content—everything from websites to emails—into Polish. But is free AI or machine translation the right choice? Discover the hidden risks and unexpected benefits of these translation solutions.
Maja Walczak
Maja Walczak
17 November 2023
Langbay - English-to-Polish Translation for Market Impact - Machine Translation Explained – Pros and Cons 

List of contents

How Does Machine Translation Work? Types of Machine Translation and History of Machine Translation Free Online Translation Tool – What Are the Benefits of Machine Translation? What Are the Downsides of the Machine Translation Technology? When Is an AI Translator a Good Idea, and When Is It Better to Choose Human Translation?

Entering the Polish market requires translating a substantial amount of content, including websites, blog articles, social media posts, documents, messages, and emails, into the target language of Polish customers. Initially, you might consider using AI or machine translation services. While these free or low-cost solutions offer certain benefits, they also present several risks. Understanding the advantages and disadvantages of using machine translation software is crucial for making an informed decision.

How Does Machine Translation Work?

Machine translation technology is a big part of computer-assisted translation. It uses fancy computer methods and artificial intelligence to change text from one language to another. To do this well, machine translation software needs to know much about different languages – like the words they use, how they put sentences together, and spelling. So, how does it manage this? Most online translation engines have big collections of text from all over the world. They study these texts to understand which words usually come after others. This way, they learn to recognize words and their meanings, helping them make longer sentences and texts.

Recently, there's been a new thing in machine translation called neural networks. These are computer programs that try to act like the human brain. They get better at translation by looking at lots of texts that humans have already translated. This learning makes machine translation more accurate and effective. We call this automatic translation, and it's getting better all the time.

Types of Machine Translation and History of Machine Translation

The history of machine translation is fascinating and marked by continuous development and innovation. The field has evolved through several stages since its inception, each introducing new techniques and approaches.

Initially, machine translation relied heavily on rule-based systems, which translated texts based on grammatical rules and syntax – an approach known as syntax-based machine translation. This method had its limitations, as it often failed to capture the nuances and fluidity of natural language.

The next significant advancement was example-based machine translation. This method used previously translated texts as a template for new translations. By comparing and analyzing these examples, the system could produce translations that were more natural and contextually appropriate.

With the advent of deep learning, machine translation entered a new era. Deep learning, a subset of machine learning, involves training neural networks on vast data. This approach enabled the development of Neural Machine Translation (NMT), which significantly outperforms previous methods regarding accuracy and fluency.

Machine translation, explained in the context of its history, shows a clear trajectory of increasing sophistication and capability. Each stage, from syntax-based to example-based, and finally to deep learning-based approaches, represents a leap forward in translation development. Today, NMT, powered by deep learning, is at the forefront of this field, offering highly accurate and context-sensitive translations that were once thought impossible. This continuous advancement underscores the dynamic nature of machine translation and its critical role in breaking down language barriers in our increasingly connected world.

Free Online Translation Tool – What Are the Benefits of Machine Translation?

Quickly and at Any Time

The key advantage of modern machine translation, including apps like Google Translate or DeepL, lies in its speed and efficiency, significantly outpacing human translation in processing large volumes of text and delivering quick turnaround times for projects. This automated translation approach is particularly effective for short content such as in-app messages, emails, or SMS, where instant response and high responsiveness are crucial, with these systems capable of changing the language in a document with a few hundred characters in seconds. 

Furthermore, advancements in translation technology, especially in neural machine translation, have significantly enhanced the quality of machine translation results. These sophisticated systems, integral to contemporary statistical translation methods, learn from extensive datasets to produce translations that are not only rapid but also more accurate and contextually relevant, offering a transformative impact on the overall translation workflow.

Completely Free

Another major benefit for companies using machine translation is its ability to handle basic text translation tasks without any cost. Especially when businesses need to translate large volumes of content, the translation capabilities of online programs become a cost-effective alternative to hiring professional translators. The continuous development in translation technology has made these online tools not only more accessible but also more reliable for everyday use. They are capable of doing basic machine translations swiftly and efficiently, making them an attractive option for businesses looking to expand their reach without incurring significant expenses. This aspect of machine translation is particularly valuable in a fast-paced business environment where quick and affordable solutions are essential.

What Are the Downsides of the Machine Translation Technology?

Low Quality

Every year, machine translation quality improves, with companies specializing in artificial intelligence constantly creating new programs with enhanced language models and machine learning algorithms. Despite these advancements, there is still significant room for improvement, particularly in achieving more accurate translations.

While a program can translate any text, it often does not do so perfectly. Common challenges include difficulties in understanding the context, especially with idioms, colloquial language, or technical terms. Online translators, even those using advanced neural machine translation, struggle to capture the nuances and subtleties of language, resulting in translations that can seem unnatural and not human-like. As a result, the machine translation output might be of lower quality and not meet the expected standards.

This level of quality might be acceptable for personal use, but it falls short in professional settings. When it comes to translating materials like mobile apps, contracts, sales emails, or important documents, relying solely on free online translation can lead to errors and inaccuracies that could prove costly for a company. In such cases, using a combination of machine translation and cloud translation services, or hiring a professional translator, becomes necessary to ensure the accuracy and appropriateness of the content. In summary, while machine translation is a valuable tool, its limitations must be acknowledged, particularly when precision and nuanced understanding are required.

Everyday Language

People who are native speakers often use colloquialisms and expressions that are not typically taught in school or found in standard dictionaries. Online translation tools, while abundant and powered by advanced language translation technology, may not always effectively incorporate such everyday language. Their translations can sometimes resemble guesses about the most commonly used words, as they do not always account for the context of the situation, such as the time of day, the specific audience, or regional dialects.

When producing content for the Polish market, it's crucial to ensure that it doesn't appear as if it was written by a robot. Readers expect valuable, error-free content that is tailored to their specific demographics and geographic location. Many translation solutions, particularly rule-based translation systems, may require additional editing to meet these expectations. Utilizing translation memory can aid in maintaining consistency across translations, but the specific use case dictates the need for human editing. This ensures that the final content resonates well with the target audience, maintaining the nuances and cultural relevance that automated systems might miss.

Threat to Privacy

Many people overlook the fact that an online translator improves its translation model while working, learning from the data input by users. This means that any content entered into a program or mobile app can be stored and potentially utilized by the companies that developed the technology.

For casual uses like translating a restaurant menu, privacy concerns are generally minimal. However, when it comes to sensitive materials such as confidential documents, contracts, sales performance reports, or business emails, relying on AI translators may not be advisable. In these cases, employing a human translator can offer a more secure approach.

Data security is a significant concern when using machine translation systems, particularly for many companies. This has led some organizations to restrict the use of machine translation approaches, with major machine translation providers being blocked in certain environments. Prominent examples include corporations like Bank of America, Panasonic, Fujitsu, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, and Citigroup, who prioritize data security and have chosen to limit or prohibit the use of AI tools like ChatGPT. As the number of organizations taking these measures continues to increase, it highlights the importance of carefully considering the use of free online translation, especially when dealing with sensitive or confidential information. Translation enables efficient communication, but it should be approached with caution in contexts where data security is paramount.

Tone of Voice

Every brand should cultivate a unique voice – a specific way and style of communicating with its audience. In crafting their communication strategy, companies decide on their tone, whether it be serious, humorous, or friendly, and how they address their audience, either in singular or plural form. This brand voice should be consistent across all platforms, including every message, email, social media post, and blog article, helping the brand to stand out and maintain a recognizable presence in the market.

However, the use of statistical machine translation can pose challenges in adhering to a brand's specific tone of voice. Each time new content is input into a program, the translation process begins anew without reference to previously entered or translated material. This approach can result in text that varies each time and lacks consistency with the brand's vision. Different approaches to machine translation, focusing on translation accuracy and quality, are essential to consider in this context. While machine translation is a powerful tool, its limitations in maintaining a consistent brand voice highlight the need for careful management of the translation process, ensuring that the final output aligns with the desired brand image and communication strategy.

When Is an AI Translator a Good Idea, and When Is It Better to Choose Human Translation?

These services, often free or low-cost, are powered by advanced machine translation engines that leverage deep learning and other types of machine translation technologies to process text. Machine translation has many benefits. One of the biggest is its ability to quickly translate lots of content. It's also good for giving you a basic idea of what foreign texts mean. Quality translation, however, requires more than just speed and basic comprehension. It involves capturing nuances, cultural contexts, and specific terminologies pertinent to your industry and target audience.

Hiring a professional translator is invaluable when aiming to expand your business into the Polish market. By doing so, you ensure that your content is not only of high quality and error-free but also appropriately tailored to the specific context or situation. Moreover, you have the assurance that your data remains secure and will not be exploited by third parties.

Machine translation, fueled by machine learning, is not entirely detrimental. In fact, I would argue that it doesn't pose a threat to the translation profession. However, challenges arise when you rely solely on machine translation solutions, particularly if you aim to establish your company as a professional entity. The key is in machine translation evaluation and using these tools as part of a broader strategy to improve translation quality.

Are you looking to enter the Polish market and need assistance with translating and localising your content into Polish? With my extensive experience in marketing and business translations, I can provide translations that not only capture the tone and voice of your brand but also resonate with the culture of your target country. Reach out to me to discuss how we can enhance your business's international presence with high-quality translation solutions.

List of contents

How Does Machine Translation Work? Types of Machine Translation and History of Machine Translation Free Online Translation Tool – What Are the Benefits of Machine Translation? What Are the Downsides of the Machine Translation Technology? When Is an AI Translator a Good Idea, and When Is It Better to Choose Human Translation?

summary

While machine translation offers many benefits and continuously improves, it is not a one-size-fits-all solution. I suggest that a combination of machine translation and human translation, or choosing human translation for certain scenarios, is often necessary to ensure high-quality, accurate, and contextually appropriate translations. This approach is particularly crucial for businesses looking to expand into new markets like Poland, where understanding the local language and culture is key to successful communication and brand recognition.

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