Can Machine Translation Ever be a Substitute for Professional German Translation?

Machine Translation

Machine translation services like Google translate are offering cheap and almost translation services but were they ever designed for anything other than casual translation tasks for the individual? There are a growing number of businesses that are expanding their markets and one of the first challenges they face is to get their marketing message out to as many people as possible, most of whom do not speak the same language as that of the home base of the business.

It’s not just translating English into a plethora of other languages, but every company around the world that is considering selling to a wider, international market is in the same boat. Does a German company turn to Google Translate or another machine translator just to save a few euros or does it employ professional German translators to do the job?

The reality is that no machine translator can yet match the quality and versatility of human translation, even if the latter is increasingly helped by a bevy of technologies that speed up translation time and so help to decrease the cost of translation.

Most machine translation tools tend to translate word for word and cannot make allowances for idioms and nuances in a language, let alone handle reams of text. This reality is not necessarily getting through to a lot of new businesses or to businesses new to an international market, however, but that could be learning a lesson the hard way. There seems little point in spending time and money preparing marketing material as well as technical manuals and documentation for it to be squandered when it comes to converting this into another language or languages.

Even converting material from one dialect into another can be fraught with misunderstanding unless it is adapted and modified by someone who understands the language and vocabulary of the original and target populations. It may be relatively easy, for instance, to use U.K. English in Australia or New Zealand, but it may not work so well in the U.S., where centuries of separate development have created a uniquely different vocabulary. Little wonder that when it comes to languages that are so different as German and Vietnamese or Turkish and Spanish that machine translation, however it has improved over the last three decades, cannot cope.

For the immediate future at least, if you are a business that is thinking of expanding your market into a German speaking part of the world (or vice versa), stick to professional German English translation services.