Usefulness of translation tools

In the job market, companies want people who speak multiple languages. But what is the usefulness of translation tools?

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usefulness of translation tools

The usefulness of translation tools?

Imagine being on vacation in France and seeing “crottin de chèvre” listed as an appetizer. You have no idea what kind of dish this is, so you put it into Google Translate. But when you look this up, you will probably not order this dish; it will say that this means goat dung. Unfortunately, you are now missing out on a delicious goat cheese!

Google Translate is one of the most well-known computer translators. However, its use can lead to major errors in language. No doubt that you, as a native speaker, hear nonsensical language from time to time. Or that you wonder what the Dutch actually say when they pronounce a certain proverb. Is this also recognizable for you? And how useful are these translation tools?

The importance of correct translations

A human translator could probably have told you that your appetizer is a goat cheese. Fortunately, Google itself admits that their free tool is not replaceable by human translators. Well as a tourist this is not really a disaster, you might already be happy if you can make yourself understood or understand what is being communicated. But when it comes to subjects where the stakes are higher, such as in Business Support, Finance or Logistics, Google Translate is not sufficient for that level.

Nevertheless, professionals still use computer-assisted translation tools (CAT). In this regard, one of the most popular tools is the translation earpiece. Often by using an app on your phone, they translate foreign languages for you. Super handy during a meeting with people who speak a foreign language, such as the difficult Dutch language.

The technology behind these tools

Of course, this did take decades of research to recognize and articulate speech in the same way that the human brain works. But even this new generation of technology, which combines neural networks of speech recognition and Internet-based translation engines, has limitations. It takes a while to get your translation, and the computers still lack the subtlety of human communication.

To really establish a relationship and have a good conversation, we suspect you will always need a human translator to make it sound natural and capture the sentiment. BBC thinks that within 10 years that problem may be solved. Sentiment analysis will be needed regarding the expression of emotions and intonations. We at Exactpi believe that technology will come this far, but real people will always make the difference.

Language skills in the job market

In any case, you do not have to invest in any translation tool yet, because we have good news! In the job market, companies want people who speak multiple languages. In fact, in America, for example, it appears that 75% of manufacturing companies require employees with diverse language skills. A recent analysis by the BBC shows that foreign language learning in secondary schools has dropped by as much as 50% since 2013. Language proficiency in the Netherlands is also declining, making you very valuable. Even if you still sometimes need a translation tool during your work! But perhaps it’s a good idea to check with a native speaker next time when you translate your menu…

What are your experiences with translation tools, and do you think they will ever become substitutes for human translators?

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