How to Put AI to the Test – Machine Versus Human Translation


If you need to translate a website or any other professional text, it might seem like an obvious solution to go with many of the apps that can instantly translate text. However, machine translation still has a long way to go, so you will still need professional website translation services to translate web pages. Below, we’ll look at the accuracy of AI translation and consider why you still need human translation services.

Why Website Translation Services Are Still Best

What is the best online translation service? You can find many resources online claiming to answer this question. There are many different types of apps out there, from ones you speak directly into for translations to ones that will translate text through your browser. Many of these tools can work in more casual, conversational environments, like personal social media use or a restaurant while on holiday. However, as CEO of Tomedes Ofer Tirosh observes, utilising website translation services is an excellent way to engage customers through a professional website and particularly if you run an eCommerce site.

The main reason you need humans to provide professional website translation services is accuracy. Google is the most popular and well-known translation app, often coming up when you search for the best online translation services. But it is still not 100% accurate. A study from 2019 looked at 100 discharge instruction documents that people got from ER visits. The researchers translated them using Google Translate.

Out of the 647 sentences, 594 had accurate Spanish translations and 522 had accurate Chinese translations. That sounds like a high success rate, but that’s still 53 mistranslated sentences for Spanish and 125 goofed sentences for Chinese. 15 of the mistranslated Spanish sentences and 50 of the Chinese sentences had errors in them that could have led to harm to the patient, such as taking medication wrongly.

People were also asked to rate Google Translate’s accuracy as part of a different survey. They gave it a 5.43 on a 0-6 scale, which doesn’t seem too bad. But it varies between languages, with just 4.3 when translating Chinese to English. That still puts machine translation services well below the accuracy levels that humans can achieve.

Why Are Translation Apps Falling Short Against Professional Website Translation Services?

The funny part about modern AI is that it’s not really AI at all. We like to pretend we have AI, but we’re a long way off from replicating any sort of digital neural network that works the way a human brain does.

That’s especially the case with AI translation. How AI translation works is that it has very large databases that it’s working off of and it statistically determines what the most likely translation for a word or phrase is, using different ‘layers’ to process the data. That’s why it can be so close to being accurate, but not quite there. Machine translation has no understanding of using a language itself, only probabilities.

This means you still need human translation services if you want to translate a website. A system that works from statistics will never truly understand the nuances of figurative language, like metaphor, idioms, or any type of colloquialism. This is especially problematic for the parts of a digital translation that are more conversational, for example, if you need translation services to handle blog posts or social media posts.

Blogs and social media tend to rely on casual and organic language that communicates with people in a very personal manner. Any type of misstep in a translation could mean readers feeling like a company is not addressing them well in their own culture. That could lead to people not wanting to follow a certain company page.

Mistranslations from machine translation could mean the main text on your website is also inaccurate or not engaging. That could result in misrepresenting your own products or giving false or even laughable information about your business. To avoid these worst-case scenarios, look into professional website translation services. Below we’ll go into how to find them and how to get the best out of working with translation services.

How to Find and Work with Translation Services

One of the most popular ways of finding professional translation services is to look up companies online using local keywords so you can find a place near you. For instance, you might use the term translation services UK. You might also search by more general terms like the best website translation service. Sometimes, people also ask around their professional network to see if someone knows of a service they had a good experience with.

Once you find such services, vet them thoroughly. Ask about what work experience the translators have and look at client testimonials and work portfolios.

Also, prepare a list of questions for the translation service. How do you translate a document professionally? Any service worth it is salt should be able to answer this. Doing so relies on skilled linguists with relevant experience and tools such as translation memories.

When working with a translation service, keep the lines of communication open. Make the company aware of key messages that should stay the same and the tone you’d like to keep. Instructions like these make for smoother translation projects.

By vetting the background and keeping communication open, you can ensure a positive experience as you translate web page, avoiding the perils of AI translation.


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