How does a professional translation service like Lichi relate to computer-based translations?

When talking about Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Translation, one of the most widely used tools is, of course, Google Translate. Anyone who’s used it over the years has noted how much more fluent and accurate it has become. You can almost write a letter to somebody in a language you don’t know and be sure that he or she will understand your meaning.

So why ask people (translation agencies or individual translators) to intervene if software can do the whole job?

The truth is that AI and Machine Translation only take you so far. Even 75% of the way still leaves the other 25% that has to be checked for accuracy, context and logic. Some people (would you believe?) actually rely on Google to translate their website content. Here’s a sentence from a Korean website:

More than 30 years have passed since I stopped writing, and after the change of generation, I wanted to take over the 100th anniversary of the opening of the business. I decided to send it.

Yes, it IS in English, but the 35 words used don’t communicate much that is useful.

Translators are trained in the nuances of language. They embrace the human element of communication, relying on context, concepts, social relationships and intent to get the point across effectively. Computers cannot grasp these nuances.

Looking for another example? Here’s one – a famously ambiguous sentence. “They are flying planes”. Consider the questions that arise:

1) Does ‘they’ refer to planes in the air, or the pilots flying them?

2) There’s a woodworking tool called a ‘plane’. Is it clear that we’re talking about aircraft?

3) Is there an emphasis on the word ‘flying’? If so, should we distinguish between planes that can fly and those that can’t?

If you multiply these points of hesitation within a text by the length of that text, you’ll appreciate why a skilled human eye is necessary even if the content has been ‘machine-translated’.

Working with AI and machine translation serves to significantly speed up the process. Instead of spending five hours on a job, a translator can spend two hours – checking, editing and correcting. If you need a technical term for this, it’s called Machine Translation Post-Editing (MTPE). This is the process where a text that was previously pre-translated by an MT engine reaches its final form after being edited by a human translator. 

However there’s another aspect as well. Does the content have impact?

Depending on how well the content needs to explain and persuade, it may need further human skills like advanced editing and copywriting. Our world is a paradox. There’s so much content and media surrounding us and yet the stuff that influences us becomes harder to find. Welcome to the fog of mediocrity!

When you’re able to apply good editing and creative marketing writing, you get to raise your head above the crowd and be noticed. So how does all this involve translation agencies? Some agencies like Lichi realize that their ‘job description’ has changed.

Lichi is now much more than a leading translation agency in Israel. It offers its clients Editing and Copywriting services as well. It has become a multi-lingual business communications specialist with a scope of services to help business people build connections and relationships in international markets.

With the volume of work needed, AI and Machine Translation is a welcome ‘first step’. But to make the communications process truly effective, it needs all the steps that follow it.