Technology Programming

The Importance of Human-Powered Website Translation

Website translation is a great way to gain new consumers, especially in our increasingly multicultural society. When people see that you've reached out to them in their own language, they'll feel more comfortable soliciting your firm. Unfortunately, the growing trend of businesses translating their websites has also led to some interesting problems with the technology they use to do so.

Many businesses simply copy and paste their website text into an automatic translation program because they think it's cheaper than paying live humans to do the work. While these programs may be free of charge in many cases, the fact that they make mistakes that cost firms business on a day-to-day basis means that their cost-effectiveness is highly doubtful.

Literal Illiteracy
You may not be a big stickler for formality, and many times, that's OK. Even some of the most formal business-oriented conversations in English use colloquialisms and common expressions to denote advanced concepts and communicate depth of meaning. The problem with translation software, however, is that 50 percent of the time it fails to translate these expressions correctly.

Even the best translation software has a hard time with expressions and corporate taglines fare even worse. For instance, you don't want your company profile to go from "We began on a shoestring budget..." to something that implies you're actually in the business of making shoestrings; with automatic translation, that's often what you'll get.

The problem lies in the fact that translation software usually has to analyze things word by word. Although some more effective versions pick up on limited nuances and build patterns around common phrases, there's no catch-all solution besides working with human translators.

Unprofessional Grammar Gaffes
If a human translator notices an odd expression they haven't heard before, they'll stop, figure it out, and find a phrase with equivalent meaning. Software translation just keeps going, making mistakes all the while. The same principle goes for grammatical constructions.

In some Asian languages, for instance, verbs are usually placed at the end of the sentence or phrase. If your software doesn't also know how to rearrange the word-by-word translation it creates from your text, foreign readers won't have a clue what you're trying to say. Sure, they might be able to figure it out after staring at your website for a while, but that's also more than enough time to decide they don't want to work with someone as unprofessional as you appear to be.

For English, those who can't speak the language fluently are often viewed as being less intelligent or somehow unprofessional, but these are assumptions and are not true in any way. Only human-driven website translation services can rewrite your pages accurately, while remaining faithful to the communication standards of your target audience.


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