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The past, present and future of translation

Press Release: October 17, 2016

Language is the key to all human existence, the ability we have that distinguishes us from the animal kingdom above everything else. Language is what breeds progress and moves society, what causes us to draw closer together and to collaborate. Language is the means by which we disperse knowledge and engender development.

Modern technology itself has developed at a fascinating rate, things once only dreamt of are now considered commonplace in our lives. We expect to communicate globally are our technology aids us. With this in mind, machine based translation services are obviously a keen source of human interest and ripe for attention.

Google is at the forefront, with a browser based system that is currently the best automatic translation service available in the modern market. Many languages are represented giving any user the ability to input their text and the algorithms google have programmed offer a quick and seemingly impressive translation from the original. It’s even possible to have speech translated as its being spoken or from a recording but it soon becomes clearly apparent that something isn’t quite right. A machine can change each word for its corresponding equivalent, can identify preprogrammed recognition errors of a different language’s grammar and syntax and piece together a document that represents an impressive technological achievement compared to previous generations resources but it is far from the case that machines can replicate or capture the nature and beauty of human language.

We at Pangea Translation Services believe that clear and correct language and communication are essential tools for human interaction, which is why we believe in human derived translation services. Speech, writing, many forms of communication can be understood by a machine on a base level, but they cannot be mastered. Patterns of speaking, colloquialisms, the variety of differing writerly voices a person is capable of producing require a thinking, feeling translator that can apply reason and lived experience to how they interpret an original text against how it needs to be understood by its following target audience. A machine can only follow systematic and formal rules that, no matter how well programmed, cannot concentrate on a context and solve any possible ambiguity that might be found or otherwise fit a sentence to the parameters of a different language.

This is not to say that machine translation is without its uses. The gist of documents may be apparent through basic word to word translation but without human comprehension of the information therein it will not feel organic and may lack important context. Its best use is for data mining large documents where specific key terms and phrases need to be located, or if only the most basic understanding of the information therein is needed.

Pangea Translation Services believes that while the tools and equipment used by translators and agencies are evolving fast, machine translation is yet to reach the point whereby natural reading translations that feel imbued with a human voice and its complicit understanding are achievable with accurate reliability. Though technology has considerably improved over the last decade, the success factor clearly indicates there is a lot of work yet to be performed before a machine captures that elusive cognitive human factor.

As a counterpoint to this is the fact that language is an innate feature of human composition, something we are born with and learn through infancy. Translation allows us to reach out across boundaries and share lived experience, to communicate freely with one another. Technology is fascinating, but some things require humanity. Language and communication are amongst them.

This article was written on behalf of Pangea Translation Services. You can read about our services here: www.pangeatrans.com

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