The term human translations highlights the fact that translations are done by human beings instead of computers (a.k.a. machine translation).
As technology evolves, more and more technology is being used in the translation process. It is our understanding that technologies do play an important role in translation services. However, this is an auxiliary role to the human translations craft instead of a main role.
Humans in Charge of Context and Accuracy
Only humans can precisely decide what is the right context for a text. Words change meaning depending on the context, and the choice of a translation will rely heavily on the context. Keeping humans in charge of the overall management of the human translations will assure the translated document mirrors the original document
Accuracy in Translation
There isn’t a single translation for a specific word. The best choice of which term will better convey the original meaning intended by the author will require a human being to make such decision.
Machines in Charge of Support and Repetition
Some activities during the translation process will be better accomplished by software instead of a human translator. Some o these translation support activities:
- retrieving a glossary during the translation process
- checking for spelling
- saving the translated document along the way
- providing advanced editing tools
One of the most well known advantages of using translation software is being able to leverage on repetition. It is quite common for segments of text to be repeated within a document or even a set of separate documents. Translation software can keep a ‘translation memory’ of such repetitions and helping the translator by ‘pre-translating’ something he already translated in the past.
The main advantages coming from this ‘translation memory’:
- no need to translate the same thing multiple times
- consistency since a single translation will be provided for a same term
- savings in translation time and cost
- possibility of multiple human translators working on a same project while keeping consistency in terms of terminology choice
- development of a translation asset that can be kept over time independently of the human translators who have worked previously on the translation projects
Frequent Questions About Human Translations
1. Are there pure human translation translations out there?
It is very rare translators who won’t be using some kind of technology during their translation work. Because of the competition in the translation services industry, we would say only amateur translators would work without some level of translation software to help them along the way.
2. What translation software do human translators use during their work?
The main tools used by translators in human translation are:
- CAT-Tools: these ‘computer-assisted translation tools’ focus on keeping a translation memory with the work being done by the translators for future use
- Text Editors: usually already built-in the CAT-Tools
- Electronic glossaries: so they can check the best terms for terminology or keep their work consistent with what was done previously
3. Will human translators become unnecessary one day?
Not in our life-time. We have heard many times that machine translation would soon make human translators disposable. This prediction has not nearly materialized and we don’t believe it will any time soon.
Intelligent communication remain pretty unreachable to computers even the most powerful ones reserved only to large corporations and universities.
CAT-Tools (computer-assisted translation tools) have been evolving over time and becoming more and more necessary for the human translation craft. However, they are still a support-tool instead of a main component during the human translation process.