The Role of Technology in Professional Translation Services in the UK

February 17, 2023

Translation technology has made significant strides in recent years, finding a more prominent place in professional translation services in the UK and leading many people to assume it has made human language services in the UK obsolete. However, technology cannot replace the human touch when it comes to translation. In this blog, we will explore the role of technology in professional translation services in the UK and why human translation services are still essential.

AI, translation technology

What translation technology is used to assist language services in the UK?

Technology has undoubtedly made translation faster and more efficient. Translation tools can help with straightforward or repetitive tasks, such as translating frequently used words or phrases. They can also help translators to maintain consistency in their translations, reducing the likelihood of errors.

There are two main types of translation technology: machine translation and computer-assisted translation tools. Although these are different technologies, they often get confused. So, let’s take a closer look at their differences:

Machine translation

Machine translation is the automatic translation of text from one language to another without human intervention. Machine translation tools rely on artificial intelligence and algorithms to analyse and translate text.

Although they may be quick and convenient, machine translation tools have their limitations when used for professional translation services in the UK, which we’ll explore below.

Computer-assisted translation (CAT)

Computer-assisted translation, or CAT, is a tool where human translators use software to help them with the translation process. CAT tools provide translation suggestions based on a database (translation memory) of previously translated texts. As well as improving human translation efficiency, they help with consistency in terminology and can reduce the amount of time required for manual formatting.

When using CAT tools, the translation process relies on human intelligence and decision-making to produce an accurate and natural translation that considers the source text’s context, culture, and intent. CAT tools can be beneficial for technical documents or content that contains a lot of repeated text.

What are the limitations when using technology for professional translation services in the UK?

Despite these advancements, translation technology, particularly machine translation, has its limitations.

Context and critical thinking

Machine translation technology is best used when translating words and simple sentences. It often struggles with complex paragraphs or documents where critical thinking is required.

A machine cannot understand the context of a document or use information outside of what is provided to make decisions on how best to translate something to make it clear, readable and engaging to the intended audience.

In comparison, professional translation services in the UK that work with human translators leverage their skill and knowledge to deliver a contextual translation that captures the intended meaning behind the words.

This capability is essential when providing legal, medical or technical language services in the UK, where an understanding of wider concepts or protocols is needed to deliver a precise and relevant translation. This contextual understanding is also required for more creative translation, used in sectors such as marketing and advertising, where consideration of aspects such as brand intent and audience preferences is crucial.

Cultural references and nuances

Machine translation also finds translating text with idiomatic expressions, nuances, and cultural references challenging. Automated translations lack the cultural appreciation and creative flair essential to produce appropriate translations that resonate with the target audience.

Native human translators are not only fluent in the language they are translating, but they also have a deep understanding of the culture and customs of the target audience. This appreciation allows them to provide culturally sensitive translations or localisation and avoid any cultural faux pas.

AI, data

How is translation technology used by professional translation services in the UK?

Computer-assisted translation technology is regularly used by translators working for language services in the UK. However, it relies on the translator to uphold quality control.

The CAT tool provides translation suggestions, while the translator is responsible for the final output. With technology and human skill working in partnership, this approach improves translation efficiency and consistency while maintaining accuracy and suitability.

Machine translation can also be used by professional translation services in the UK. However, a human translator should be involved in a post-editing process to ensure the quality of the translation. By combining machine translation and human post-editing in this way, better efficiency and consistency can also be achieved.

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Human translators still have a critical role to play.

While technology is undoubtedly helping to improve the delivery of translation services, it cannot replace the skills and expertise of human translators. Professional translation services in the UK that combine these benefits of translation technology with the expertise and broader knowledge of human translators can provide the best of both worlds, delivering accurate and culturally sensitive translations that resonate with the intended audience more efficiently

To learn more about Mission Translate’s high-quality translation services or to enquire about a new project, please get in contact with our team.

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