When Google Translate launched in 2006, it opened up the world of quick translations for all. Anyone could access the online app to interpret text from one language to another. The issue was – and still is that accurate results can’t be guaranteed and there’s no way of knowing if it is correct or not as the person using the software isn’t fluent in the desired language.
Technology makes leaps and bounds; but it’s not the end for the human translator
Microsoft is making small steps to developing translation software with their initial roll out of Skype Translator. It’s currently now available for spoken translation between English and Spanish and there are plans for many other languages to be added over time but there’s still the question of accuracy of translation which will always hang over any computer-driven translation. It works by recording the conversation and breaking it down into sections before reassembling in the second language for the other person.
The advantage in technology advances mean that the real benefit is how the approach to translation is changing; the casual user requiring translation of a web page or needing to know how to send a text in another language will find that online software can really remove language barriers to produce text which at least gives an idea of the content or message required. Professionals requiring translation work though will always turn to those services where a native speaker uses their skills and expertise.
The future of automated translation
Whilst tools such as the Microsoft Skype system may make day to day conversation easier over time, the idea of a universal computerised translation is still science fiction. Those who work as professional translators take time and care so the message of the content is communicated with the foreign recipient in the way the author originally intended it to. It’s not possible for a machine or a piece of software to do this with utter accuracy. A computer doesn’t have a sense of humour and it can’t use the exact words needed for a specific target audience and so this is why human translators will always be ahead of technology when it comes to translation.