As a translation company that operates across a huge array of industries and languages all over the world, we work with an incredibly diverse range of people. Something that is becoming increasingly common is the belief that technology will soon make the traditional translator obsolete. People see the increase in digital translation apps and sophisticated algorithms and assume the lifespan for translation businesses is limited. However, the truth is that there will always be a need for high-quality professional translators.
In this article, I want to talk about the future of the translation industry, how technology is changing it, and why the future is not as grim for translation businesses as many think.
The Difference Between Professional Translation Services and Today’s Apps
Our world is ever more interconnected, and the rise of online culture and digital services has meant that language is a much more common hurdle than it once was: online forums, social media groups, Zoom classes, even online dating. There are a near-endless number of reasons people today may find themselves bumping up against a language barrier. This is where the new apps and algorithms come in. The majority of the translation apps being released today are being made to handle these basic day-to-day interactions between millions of people, to ease general understanding in casual conversations. This is where the confusion between this technology and what trained translators can do begins.
Companies like Google and Microsoft have poured millions of dollars into developing sophisticated translation algorithms. The results of these algorithms are mixed, but they are quite capable of handling casual conversations.
You do not need very sophisticated language to talk about a TV show you saw or to compliment someone, but when you need to work on a legal case or give medical advice, your language needs to change quite a bit. There are different levels of language complexity required to accomplish various levels of tasks. While most applications and algorithms can handle basic conversation, they begin to break down and fail in the more demanding realms. You also have to consider the scans, handwriting, and acronyms that are common when it comes to documentation in professional fields.
While the machines today are amazing, they are still far off from being able to conduct translations at the accuracy required in a professional setting.
Simply put, translators today handle language requirements that are much more complex than what can be accomplished by a machine. For example, a certified English translation may require a translator to recreate specific legal, medical, or industry-specific terms while taking into account the speaker's unique linguistic cultures and the targeted audience. Even a basic certified English translation for everyday purposes would require the services of a professional if it began to run into any metaphors, figures of speech, or eponyms (all things machines cannot handle).
There Will Always Be a Need for Human Translation
There is no doubt that technology will continue to advance, and the tools we use will become ever more accurate and efficient at their tasks. However, the need for humans in order to achieve perfect translation accuracy and results may never change.
For example, speechwriters, therapists, and salespeople all spend decades perfecting the perfect tone, cadence, and word choice in order to relate and convince someone of something. Doing this requires intimately understanding the person you are talking to, their beliefs, their culture, etc., and being wholly self-aware of how the speaker is being perceived. At the same time, languages evolve, syntax changes, slang shifts. The complexity is exponential and often requires a career to master.
For now and the foreseeable future, machines simply will be unable to maintain the accuracy required to operate alone in the medical or legal fields, or the charisma needed to adjust an emotional pitch for a new cultural context. Machines will replace a great deal of what language professionals do today and in decades past, but there will be a need for professional language experts well past our lifetimes.
What Translation Apps Will Look Like in 2022 and Beyond
While it may sound like we don't think highly of translation apps, the truth is we even use them in our regular lives. When we go on vacation to new places that speak new languages, these applications are excellent for helping you to get around and ask basic questions, and they are only going to get more accurate as time goes on. It will be exciting to see how this technology will continue to bring us all together.
The truth, from a business perspective, is that we all win as well. The more interconnected our world is, the more people will have a need for legal and other professional translation services (like a certified English translation). We see the growth of translation applications as a great benefit to all of us in the long run.
We are likely to see more real-time translation integration into communication and chat apps, and the continuation of machine learning technology should allow for the general accuracy to become very fast and reliable. Soon, accurate real-time chat may be possible between people all over the world, and we may not even be aware as it is happening. Seamless integration might just be the next step for this technology.
The Future of Translation Is Exciting
Whether you are a translation agency or an app developer, the future of translation looks promising. Better, faster, more accurate services will empower more people than ever before. The best part is that the customers are the ones most likely to benefit from all of this.
We see this as a continuation of the reason we got into translation in the first place, to help and uplift underserved communities looking to navigate the complex legal demands of immigration and education. Technology allows us to serve our customers more efficiently than any translation agency that has existed before us. We plan to continue to leverage technological advancements to serve our customers best.
If you need a certified English translation or a translation in one of the 90+ languages we offer, please don't hesitate to reach out to our friendly staff today.