Can I use machine translation for internal memos?

1st March 2015

Ever since Google Translate, Bing Translate and other machine translation tools made their first appearance in the translation market, many people have thought that translators had seen their days and believed that these language professionals were no longer needed. Why would companies spend money in hiring their services when there was an automatic translation machine that could deliver the same results, for free!?!

Machine translation allows users to have a document translated in seconds whereas a human translator would take hours or even days to do it. However, speed has nothing to do with accuracy and this is quite an important point every business owner would be foolish to ignore.

Will using machine translation lead to errors, accidents and possible legal issues if internal documents are not translated correctly? Most definitely yes!

Language professionals translate documents with the accuracy companies and professional bodies require. Linguists pay attention to the particular choice of words, phrases and structure of sentences within a document. They will ensure that the translated document sounds natural to the reader and uses the most appropriate ‘tone of voice’. In an automatic translation the software performs a literal translation of the text. The original document is generally translated into the foreign language word by word, with no regard to the overall structure, nor whether the sentences make any literal sense to the reader.

Can I use machine translation for internal memos?

When automatic translation can be used?

Automatic translation is not for business, but it can be of personal use, if you want to chat to a friend abroad via Skype or get the gist of a foreign website, for example.

When automatic translation should be avoided?

Any corporate texts (memos, websites, internal manuals, financial documents, etc;) as well as medical, legal and technical documents. These should always be translated by a professional, human translator. In all these cases, accuracy is not only a ‘must’ but it is also of the utmost importance that the message and information reaches your target audience strongly and clearly. Your website should also be translated by a language professional. It has been well researched and proven that Google translate isn’t good enough if you are looking to generate online sales. You can read more about websites and free translation tools here.

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