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Humans vs. Machines in Translation

Humans vs. Machines in Translation
on September, 29 2016

Many innovations involving machine translation have popped up on the scene of late. On the market today, you'll find pens that simultaneously translate text as one reads, speech recognition software developed by Microsoft and the Google image translation app for smartphones.

For years, human technologists have tried to develop software and tools that could pull off accurate translations. Though falling significantly short in their objectives, the standard online translation tools that are commonly available on the market, such as Google Translate, Yandex Translate, and Bing Translator, have been widely recognized to fulfill a need for approximate translations on the market.   

But when do you opt for a machine translation versus a professional human translation? To fully provide an answer to this question, let’s explore the pros and cons of both methods and how machine translations, in particular, work.

How Machine Translation Tools Operate

Let’s talk about Day Translations’ Free Translation Tool, a machine translation tool we highly recommend you use online.

Web-based translation tools like our Free Translation Tool are a Statistical Machine Translation, that is, a platform that gathers data over time to statistically give you a translated string of words in any chosen language pair. 


It’s Web-based & Instant: the Day TRanslations Free Translation Tool is readily available on the web for cross-platform use. Translations take place with just a click of the Translate button.

It’s Free: there is no cost to use the Day Translations Free Translation Tool, which is an advantage for your business.

Dozens of Languages: you can pick from a wide range of languages as the source and target languages when you use the DT Free Translation Tool.

Text & Page Translation: you can translate any and all kinds of emails, documents, web pages and more, on the easy-to-use interface of the DT Free Translation Tool.


It’s Limited: It’s tedious to translate long text into the service and you’ll fail to receive an accurate translation of the text you submit.

Limited List of Languages: While the DT Free Translation Tool offers a long list of languages, it’s possible you won’t be able to find your required languages on the list.

Don’t Expect Natural-sounding Translations: the DT Free Translation Tool gives a word-for-word translation of the text that is mechanical and not natural-sounding. 

Doesn’t Take Context Into Account: the DT Free Translation Tool cannot grasp the context of your text. The service does not take into the demographics of the target audience, that is, their ages, cultural sensitivities, and education level. Nor does it take into consideration whether the content is meant to be website content or any one of the following: a speech, white paper, instructional content, marketing copy, etc.   

It’s just a machine: Quite a bit of study, research, and localization skills are needed to translate a brand name or to translate keywords with SEO and SEM in mind. This is just something a machine doesn’t take into account.

The DT Free Translation Tool relies on translation algorithms to produce automated translations. These algorithms still aren't good enough, however, to match the quality of a translation a human translator provides.   

Save the DT Free Translation Tool for specific uses. In understanding the benefits and limitations that it provides, you’d better be able to pick the right solution for your own unique localization and translation needs.

When to Use the DT Free Translation Tool:

The DT Free Translation Tool can be used for the following:

Finding the Approximate Meaning of a Text

You can use the DT Free Translation Tool to get the ‘gist’ of what a content page is saying.  That is, a basic meaning of the content piece is conveyed though invariably some confusion in understanding it may happen due to the amount of mistakes the translated piece will have.

Casual or Informal Communication

When you want a document to be understood casually or informally in a target language of your choice, opt to use the DT Free Translation Tool. It will give you a rudimentary translation that is rather basic. 

Not for Official Use

As mentioned in the above points, the DT Free Translation Tool does not do a good job of accurately translating texts that are for business or official purposes. It's best reserved for informal and casual communications with people who do not mind reading translation errors.

When You Need Human Translation Services:

There are many obvious limitations to using an online translation tool. The primary limitation is that it can only convey a basic idea of the text. You can find out the subject of the content or its primary points but it is incapable of delivering you a mirror accurate translation of the work.

Because automated translation services are so limited, your company may need to turn to human professionals to expertly translate your documents. The following categories of content are ideal for humans to translate:

Official Content: Documents, Messages, Letters, Emails, etc.

When your company letterhead and logo officially graces a document you need translated, have a human professional carry out the translation. An online translation tool would only churn out a clunky translation that is riddled with mistakes, convey a key point inaccurately, or completely miss critical facets of your content. Why risk this with your official content? Remember your company's reputation is at stake.

Content Localization

By just focusing on translating sentence segments, online translation tools completely overlook context, which is very important. Automated technology cannot carry out the proper localization of a text that caters to a specific culture and society. Only professional human translators can step up to the plate and bring you the best results when it comes to content localization.

Marketing Content

Your marketing content is written in a style that is supposed to resonate with readers. When you translate the text to a different language, don't you want the text to read well stylistically? Human translators know how to lend sense and style to a translation so that it reads like copy that captivates the reader. They can communicate your message effectively across several languages.

Multiple Language Translations

Sometimes a corporate marketing piece has to be translated to more than one language in a campaign. When you have such a big project on your hands, it's best to hire a specialty translation firm that will look to maintain a consistent message across several languages. The main marketing message won't be lost in translation and you can trust the essence of the style of your piece will be preserved.


Online translation tools can offer instant machine-based text-to-text translations that communicate the basic message. But when you want full control over your message, with quality style and content in the target language of your choice, hiring a translation company is the best way to go. In the translations contest between human versus machine, a human translator is always better because he or she can provide a mirror-accurate translation of your communication piece.

Machine translations have their place in the world and can deliver the basic meaning of a text when your company is in a bind. These, however, cannot live up to the quality of a human-powered translation, which is the service you should choose when you want an official communication of your company to be fully understood by its readers. 

Denise Recalde

Denise Recalde is a Senior Content Writer at Day Translations. A seasoned writer and editor with eleven years of experience under her belt, she is a bonafide wordsmith who loves playing with the written word creatively and always takes care to lend a certain hue of snap and color to her drafts. Always one to rise up to challenges, she has traveled to 14 countries and has worked on a smorgasbord of writing projects that spanned several industries, from finance to health to beauty and fashion.

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