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The Advantages and Inconveniences of Human Translation: A Comparative Analysis

Human translation remains superior to machine translation (MT) because only human translation can achieve the quality necessary to preserve the style, tone and intent of the text to be translated. Machines are not capable of understanding at the level a human being does.

For this reason, it is said that MT needs a human translator's contribution, especially for content containing persuasive, funny, sarcastic, or poetic, narratives, among others.

A comparative analysis will be useful for understanding these scenarios. We will take a look at human translation vs machine translation and delve into the advantages of implementing human intervention, both to perform the task at hand and to improve the quality of the MT.

The importance of human translation

The human brain possesses the great capacity to translate any text while considering and interpreting the context and maintaining the essence of the message to be conveyed. An ability that, so far, cannot be replaced by a machine.

Even with the amazing advances, AI has made in the field of neural networks, there is still a need for human intervention to review and edit the results produced by machine translation (post-editing), especially in cases where cultural understanding, creative language, and greater accuracy in specialized topics are needed.

Only a professional translator can interpret the true meaning of a message, choose the correct word for terms that have no corresponding word in the target language, and give the right flow to the text.

This is how human translation offers results that are smoother, easier to understand and easier to read in the target language. Of course, providing the work is done by an expert professional translator.


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The advantages and inconveniences of human translation

Translation performed by professionals is undoubtedly of a higher quality. Here is a detailed list of the advantages of human translation over machine translation:

  • Quality. In human translation, specialists apply reasoning and observation and are able to detect and correct errors.

  • Accuracy. Human translation is performed by specialists with knowledge of the sector or subject matter in question (technical, scientific, legal, etc.). As such, they can assure the precision of each term or concept.

  • Language proficiency. This is another advantage of human translation since it is carried out by a native translator who is proficient in the source language, and native in the target language.

  • Natural flow. Human translation takes into account sensitivity to the nuances, subtleties, codes and values of the target culture.

  • Creativity. Professional translators use creativity to incorporate the most appropriate expression for the context and the message that is being communicated.

  • Style. With a professional, the style of the original text is preserved, thus conveying the intent of the original wording.

All these advantages of human translation make it an excellent option for companies because it manages to convey to each audience the precise message and personality of the brand.

However, human translation has two inconveniences: it is a more expensive service than MT and takes longer. It is therefore necessary to know when to opt for each type of translation.


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Human translation vs. machine translation: which one should you choose?

AI-based machine translation can quickly process a large volume of text and deliver an almost instantaneous result in a variety of languages.

But MT does not consider the context, nor the nuances or peculiarities of the target culture, especially if it is content that requires creativity, like marketing, literature or advertising. As such:

  • Machine translation represents an excellent and practical option for processing personal content that will not be published, such as documents or emails. It is not advisable to use machine translation for texts or content to be shared with partners or customers, because it may affect personal interests or business relationships.

On the other hand, human translation is convenient for the following cases:

  • For the translation of documents, reports or any text to be published or shared.

  • For the translation of corporate websites.

  • For the translation of content that requires some specialization or technical, legal, financial or medical knowledge, among others.

  • For the translation of marketing, advertising or commercial content.

It is also possible to use a hybrid approach, combining machine translation with human translation, as follows:

  • Using human translation for documents or content where message, style, nuance and context are critical to the company or institution. While MT can be used for the translation of content with less impact on the brand.

  • Choosing machine translation post-editing, where neural MT is used in a first stage, and in a second stage the MT output is reviewed, edited and corrected by professional human translators.


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The advantages of machine translation post-editing

Machine translation post-editing (MTPE) is a way to make human translation more efficient, taking advantage of the best capabilities of AI-based MT, such as availability, speed, volume of text and automation of certain processes. The professional translator only needs to improve the quality of the work produced by the machine.

In MTPE, the best of each translation system is used, offering the following advantages:

  • Fixes MT errors or mistakes, as the professional translator verifies the accuracy and precision of the message being conveyed and adapts the expressions and terms that need to be used.

  • It is cost-effective. It is a combined option that results in a high-quality translation, especially if the MT output only requires the correction of small details.

  • It speeds up the human translators' work because they act as specialized editors and do not have to start translating from scratch.

  • It offers a balance between the quality provided by human translation and the efficiency of MT.


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Pangeanic, a leading provider of human translation at the international level

Since 2000, Pangeanic has been providing human translation services worldwide, working with clients in Europe, Asia, North America and other parts of the world.

We currently have a pool of more than 25,000 native translators with expertise and knowledge in different professional sectors in order to ensure accuracy in legal, scientific, medical, financial and technological translation, among others.

In addition, we have been leading the way in hybrid translation (human + machine) since 2010. We are a professional translation agency that can offer the power of AI and neural networks to achieve the highest possible efficiency and quality in translation.

This is why we are trusted by world-renowned institutions and companies, such as DeepL, FIFA, the European Commission, AWS, Microsoft, Subaru, etc.

Contact us if you require the quality of human translation and the speed and automation of neural MT. At Pangeanic, we combine human ingenuity and technology and put them at the service of your business.

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