Will Machine Translation replace Human Translators?

Remote French interpreting for art events
Live remote interpreting for a cultural summit in NYC

‘Is machine translation good enough?’
‘Why can’t I use Google Translate?’

I often get asked these questions, and my answer is always the same:

Could machine translation translate poetry?
Or catchy adverts on TV?

It’s usually enough for people who aren’t familiar with languages to understand what I mean.

The world is getting smaller and we have the new technologies to thank for it.

Cultures are being brought closer than ever.

Those earpieces that interpret simultaneously what the other person is saying are revolutionary!

And, on this picture, I’m actually interpreting remotely, how amazing is it that I can help people in different locations communicate, from another place altogether?

I just love that more and more people are given the chance to exchange.
This is literally the reason I do what I do, so why should I be scared?

Technology helps translation, but will never replace human translators.

My job is safe, my clients hire me because I offer them my artistic and cultural sensitivity.
I’m not just translating words, but worlds. (Cheesy pun, hello!)

Indeed, for catchy adverts, you sometimes need rhymes, or puns.
You need to convince your audience, or educate them in a way that’s entertaining.

You can’t just replace one sentence by its equivalent in another language.

Machines might be able to respond to stimuli, but will never be able to feel, adapt, understand underlying meanings or sense the imperceptible details that can make or break communication.

Communication relies on so much more than words.

? The way you speak and write carries your culture, your education, your story.

? You can change the meaning of a sentence using only intonation, musicality or register.

? A word could mean something else entirely depending on the context it is used in.

? Body language plays a huge part in the way we understand each other.

So, nope, for translating museum content, machines will never be better than I (or my talented colleagues).

To quote the example that made me laugh in my Insta story yesterday:
‘Benicio Del Toro toma vino’ is Spanish for ‘Benicio Del Toro drinks wine.’
Give this to Google Translate and you’ll get:
‘Benicio of the bull takes it came.’

So yes. Humans are still pretty cool and won’t be replaced any time soon.

Do you agree?
Do feel threatened by the advances of technology in your field?

Posted on: 09/27/2019, by :

What do you think?