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Human Translation vs. Machine Translation


Human Translation: the Path to Professional Quality

In the translation world, there has been significant emphasis on the development of technology and machine translations. However, the use of manual human translation is still essential to achieving professional quality for clients. As you can imagine, languages are a highly complex system of communication. The exact meaning of a given word/phrase can vary significantly depending on the following:

  1. Context
  2. Purpose of the communication
  3. Target Audience

Even with the most powerful super computers, machine translation can only achieve approximately 75-80% accuracy, depending on the language pair. Furthermore, machines cannot guarantee the readability of the translated text. In other words, the translation may be partially accurate, but sound awkward or robot-like.

Imagine translating a contract or a manual where 25% of the text is incorrect and having no way of knowing which part is translated correctly or incorrectly. This is certainly not acceptable. If you want professional quality, human translation is a critical element in this process.

This is why Executive Linguist Agency never uses machine translation for anything. Our translators create accurate translations that read like they were written originally in the target language. Accuracy and readability are the two most important factors that can make all the difference in an any translation assignment.

To recap, here are the pros and cons for using human translation:


High quality


Slower production time (We can work around your schedule, however. Let us know!)


Here are the pros and cons for using machine translation (again, we do not use any machine translation software):


Instant Results

Lower cost (free in the case of Google Translate)


Very low quality

Cannot be used with confidence under most circumstances


google-translateA Word about Automated Translation

Automated translation is a new development in the industry and has been advancing in the past couple of years especially.

The current leader in automated translation is Google Translate. Google Translate is free online service provided by Google to automatically translate text or even a webpage into another language.

It currently supports 59 languages and 2,550 language pairs- including all 23 official EU languages.  Google constantly adds new translation features and widgets. Current features include:

  • Instant translation of your search result while “Googling”.
  • Instant translation in Gmail email and Google docs.
  • Widgets for your website, which allows your visitors to view your site in other languages.
  • TMS (Translation Management System).


Google Translate has grown from 4 languages in 2006 to 59 languages in 2009. The quality is still not so great, but with such rapid development and public demand, it will become more popular and useful in upcoming years for those who need it.

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