6 Reasons Why Machine Translation Will Not Replace a Person
Certainly, machine translation is constantly being improved, like no other field of linguistics. We have taught the electronic brain to recognize the sounds of foreign speech and to give out its translation, to search for the correspondence of stable expressions in different languages and even to create dictionaries on their own. However, there are still some insurmountable obstacles that prevent a computer translator from completely replacing a person.
Getting good translation is not an easy task
In most cases, translation requires much more than just knowing two languages. It’s a mistake to think that it is enough to find a complete analogy of words and phrases. Translators are far from walking dictionaries. They recreate the text using various languages. Translation from German to Russian, from English to Ukrainian, and even from Japanese to eleven official languages of South Africa, suggests that the specialist will create in each of these languages new proposals that will carry the same meaning, and have the same effect on minds and hearts of readers, which was embedded in the text of the original. And this work is based not so much on knowledge of specific words, but on understanding of different cultures. The machine can’t do anything like that.
Quality of translation is a highly subjective phenomenon
We can suppose that quality of translation made by the machine can be as close to what a person does. Then it is not entirely clear which of the human translations should be taken as a standard. Give the same text to hundreds of translators and you get one hundred different options. In doing so, they all retain the meaning and content of the original. Choosing the best will be quite subjective and, for sure, will cause a lot of controversy.
There are too many languages
Even the most popular electronic translation service works with only 80 languages, while on Earth there are up to 7000 languages and adverbs, 3000 of which are on the verge of extinction. And even if you throw away all sorts of rarities and exotics, there will still be 1000 languages that have great economic and cultural significance. They are in demand, they are spoken by millions, they live and thrive. So, translation to these languages is in demand. However, cars are still managing only 80, leaving the rest to 920 for live translators.
Not all languages have writing
This will sound enough strangely, but so far not all languages have developed their own writing. And with active development of computer technology, this is not always necessary. Today, we move from only a written form of communication to a form of audiovisual. It means that to send a message in electronic form, we do not need to type the text. You can send an audio or video file. And this greatly limits the capabilities of electronic translators, focused mainly on the perception and transfer of text.
With the development of technology, spoken language suddenly became much more important than writing. With the advent of smartphones and tablets, we began to perceive information more often by ear or video formats. And if a human translator easily copes with this state of affairs, then the machines have yet to learn to recognize the sounding speech.
Contextual meanings of words
In English, for example, almost every word has dozens, or even hundreds, of meanings depending on the context. Is it possible to put them all in the memory of the machine, considering that all options must be laid in at least two languages? In addition, literal translation itself is practically impossible; otherwise we will get an incoherent set of lexical units. When translating, a person relies not so much on the direct meaning of a particular word, as on the general meaning of the whole text, that is, on the context. And it, in turn, depends on the creative abilities of a human, which machines are completely deprived.
Language is too significant
How important are the words that your company uses in its advertising campaigns and product descriptions? People around the world buy these or other goods, focusing on advertising, which is not only in elegant packaging, but also in words. And imagine what will happen if you entrust translation of the advertising campaign to the machine. Proof sentences, often with the opposite meaning, without agreement, with direct dictionary meanings. Hardly anyone will buy such a product. In addition, it is necessary to focus not only on literacy, but also on the culture of a particular country.
So it turns out that computers never completely solve the problem of translation. Too much depends here on the living human mind, one of the most important properties of which is creative thinking. And it does not always give in to logic and a clear explanation.
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