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Machine Language Translation: Friend or Foe?

Advancements in technology and word processing are seeing machine language translation take the traditional transfer of content from one language into another to a different level. Nowadays, the translation of set phrases and keywords from almost any language combination is just a simple click away. Yet, many a translator will have an opinion about the quality of that ‘different level’ and the question remains; is machine translation a long-lost friend to be treasured or a foe waiting to strike?

For many translators the latter definitely reflects their perception. They see machine language translation as a negative friend or foetool for the industry, something that makes the qualifications and expertise of translators redundant, devaluing translation as a sector. What’s more, like with most translating machine tools, the translation memory (TM) is only as good as the amount of effort used to maintain it – therefore, what should be saving a translator time can result in them doing double the amount of work for the same price.

Of course, these worries are valid for anyone working as a professional translator. Yet, there have been huge advancements in the machine language translation industry that are making the effectiveness of translating machine tools increasingly effective, more precise and of huge benefit to the translator. They just need to be used in the right way and that means by the translator themselves, as well as the translation agency.

What machine language translation is ideal for is achieving consistency, in particular across documents of extensive length where guaranteeing keyword and translation consistency can be sometimes quite difficult. Using machine language translation tools allow a translator to effectively translate a word or set phrase in exactly the same way throughout the translation. This is particularly imperative for documents like instruction manuals.

This element of consistency across documents is even more difficult when a number of translators are working on one single translation and the use of working TMs is the perfect way to create precise and consistent translations. In an industry where interpretation of a word can vary considerably, making sure that the right words are being used at the same time is vital. Machine translation can also allow a translator to turn around much larger amounts of work on smaller timescales, creating a more efficient translation process and lower prices for the client.

Whether you hate it or love it, the benefits of machine language translation cannot be ignored. And neither can the worries of the translating workforce. What all great translation agencies, like Lingo24 and professional translators should be doing is using the benefits of machine translation together with the expertise of human translation – for example with thorough PEMT (Post-Edited Machine Translation). Bringing man and machine together is the perfect way to achieve successful and seamless translations.


Lingo24 is a global translation company, with interests in marketing, e-commerce, product management and many other areas that are of relevance to our clients. We share news on our company performance, innovative technology solutions, exciting new hires and guest posts from some of our translators.

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