Updated: May 19, 2020
Google Translate is becoming more advanced, why should I pay for translation? In this article I'm diving into the question most people are asking about the translation and language service industry.
It's true, Google Translate, among other applications, have come a long way since machine translation (MT) was first developed in the 1950s. There is no doubt that when traveling and there is a need to communicate with others, those apps have saved lives. But translators and language service providers (LSPs) are not here to be instant mediators to just get the main point across between two entities. Translators are professionals who offer services that can localize content, that is to adapt content for a certain local and culture, so that businesses can offer high-quality native-sounding content to clients.
We are professionals
Translators are not just multi-lingual people. Knowing more than one language is obviously a key factor when it comes to being a translator, but not the only one. Most translators have a degree in translation or linguistics and have learned industry knowledge through continuing education. In addition, they have spent a significant time studying the cultures and perhaps living in the countries of the languages they speak. Generalizing, mistranslating and leaving out main ideas is what happens when aspiring translators haven't had proper training in translation studies.
We are specialized
Many translators are also specialized in a certain field such as medical, legal, and financial translations or in the tourism and hospitality industry like myself. When someone is specialized it means that they have a high degree of knowledge in one specific field. This ensures that translations will be accurate and it also cuts down on the turn-around time for translations because they will spend less time looking up technical terms that they deal with on a daily basis.
We can localize content
A major factor as to why machine translation can't translate as accurately as people is that language and culture go hand in hand. Translating words form one language to another is what MT specializes in, not culture. Idioms, puns, pop-culture references, and jokes rarely make sense in another language when translated literally. The same goes for business formalities, customs, values, and beliefs. Talking about individualistic values in a language that has many collectivist values will not go over well in the target culture. Translators are aware of these intrinsic values of the target culture and can adapt accordingly.
We help grow businesses internationally
English has been and continues to be an important language throughout the world today, but having materials in someone's native language helps people to understand content deeper. No matter what the industry is, translations are crucial for international businesses. Most notably, if documents are mistranslated, a company could lose out on many clients. Translating marketing materials, advertisements, business plans, contracts, etc. for your business can help make your company be seen at an international level.
MT can be great when trying to get directions from a local during your trip to Thailand, but when it comes to your business, let the professionals take care of it.