Global Lingo Blog

Machine translation – a waste of time and money

A story has recently reached our ears of a company who needed fast and cheap translation.

Unfortunately it doesn’t end well

The company spent a lot of time and money on a new internal computer system, designed to bring efficiencies throughout all their global offices. To achieve this, they required all the training materials translated into the languages used by their teams, so that training could be carried out locally.

The material to be translated covered a wide range of disciplines fundamental to the new computer software and so had to be contextually accurate and consistent throughout.

Budget constraints dictated the translation project

As with all businesses, budget constraints were a huge consideration for the company so they placed their project in the hands of the lowest priced translation agency. This subsequently meant that the quality of the translation was not a priority for the agency, though clearly the client was under the impression that the resultant translation would be accurate.

Unbeknown to the company the agency experimented with machine translation in order to deliver on time and budget.

Bad translation resulted in a drain on time and expenses

When the translated documents were returned to the company, they quickly realised that the translation hadn’t been completed by professional translators, but machine translation had been used on their highly technical training documents.

This “experiment” in machine translation also meant that the agency couldn’t keep to the timescale agreed, resulting in a delivery months over deadline.

Luckily, internal staff spoke the target languages fluently and were required to spend time re-translating the materials themselves, scrutinising the poor machine translation. This meant that core staff abandoning their daily projects to salvage the translations and ensure the training go ahead on schedule.

Machine translation is a false economy

A critical technical translation such as these training materials, required an experienced project manager to control the selection of human translators, set a realistic timescale and price as well as ensuring consistency, accuracy and quality.

Unfortunately, the company had to dedicate their own time and resources, essentially paying twice for the translations. Had the project been delivered right first time, it would have enabled the timely launch of their new software and made them an even bigger saving at a time when budgets are under tight scrutiny.

Professional human translation

The march of technology continues, but computers cannot compete with the skills of a trained translator. Language is so nuanced that machine translation is only good enough to provide the gist of the content of a document. This is why Global Lingo never use machine translation, all of our translations are completed by professional human translators who have years of experience of translating only into their native language and are specialists in their chosen subject area. Our clients can be assured that quality is never compromised.

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