Business Document Translation Does Not Compute

Posted on 25. Nov, 2009 by in Our Blog

Art Gib

About twenty years ago, I was having a discussion about document translation with someone, and the comment was made, “Well, there really isn’t a future in that, because computers are going to be able to do all of that translation before too long anyway.” The person making the comment wasn’t bilingual and obviously had no experience with the translation process, but what they said was somewhat prophetic; computers can now translate from one language to another. You don’t even need to purchase special software. The Internet is full of programs that boast the ability to translate for you.

Although these translations are around 70% accurate and can give a general ‘jist’ of what a text is about, unfortunately they are useless for reliable business material.  A computer can’t understand nuance or context, and most of the time, those translations amount to nothing more than a simple flip-flopping of one word for another. Most software can’t distinguish between “lead” as in “you lead and I’ll follow” and “lead” as in “lead pipe.” When translating between European and Asian languages, the number of errors increase seemingly exponentially. Needless to say, without the human touch, automated document translation is still a far-off dream, and not what you want for your business document translations.

Business document translations, be they contracts and forms or web-based media, still require the human touch. A bilingual translator has the ability to perceive the nuances of what you are trying to say, can examine your target market, and ask important questions to help clarify your intention, something that I don’t believe a computer will ever be able to do. A professional translation company will also be aware of the laws and customs of the target country and should be able to help you avoid all of the small mistakes that could retard or even destroy the growth of your business. For all of your important documents, large or small, you will want to find a competent translation company.

I don’t fault the person who made that comment. It was the 20th Century, and we were all still hoping that we would probably have flying cars by now. Computers have come a long way since then, and my little handheld PDA has more memory and ability than most of the desktop computers had back then. Even so, what we have learned, coming into this century, is that while computers have become invaluable tools in almost every walk of life, they can’t replace human beings when it comes to business and document translation services.

Author Resource:-> MultiLing ( is renowned for its ability to implement translation and localization technology in its web globalization and business translation services

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