In the translation sector, as in every other industry, you may find people embracing new technologies and people diminishing their importance or even fearing them.

Truth is, machine translation (MT) is here to stay. Basically, that is the automated translation of texts through computer software. Of course, the first thing that pops up in mind are Google Translate and its friends, such as DeepL. These are very useful to get a general idea of what a foreign document is about, but the text produced will certainly contain a lot of errors and mistranslations.

However, there’s so much more about MT. If used by a human translator, it can be an extremely helpful tool, just like automation solutions in every aspect of our life from everyday tasks to industrial processes.

Because human translators can think, understand the nuances of language, and know their field’s specialized jargon, they can use MT simply as one of their several tools of the trade. Having software automatically translate some parts of the text they’re working on enables them to speed up their work (for instance, dates, simple phrases, and lists will probably only need some minor retouches). If paired up with properly maintained translation memories (made up of already-translated sentences), glossaries, and termbases, this really allows focussing on new sentences and difficult terms and ultimately producing more consistent, high-quality texts.

So yes, I use machine translation. But no, that doesn’t make me unprofessional, lazy, or sloppy. Actually, that makes me a better translator.