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What are the 3 Types of Translation? Translation Services Must-Knows

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Understanding Different Types of Translation

In an increasingly interconnected world, translation services play a crucial role in breaking language barriers and facilitating communication across cultures. Whether it’s for businesses expanding globally, scholars conducting research, or individuals seeking information in a foreign language, the demand for accurate and reliable translations has never been higher. However, not all translations are created equal. There are three distinct types of translation, each with its own pros and cons. In this blog post, we will explore the world of translation and shed light on the differences between Human Translation (HT), Machine Translation (MT), and Post-Edited Machine Translation (PEMT).

What are the Different Types of Translations?

When it comes to translating content, there are primarily three approaches. Let’s take a closer look at each of them:

Human Translation (HT)

Human Translation, as the name suggests, involves skilled translators who are proficient in both the source and target languages. These professional linguists possess an in-depth understanding of cultural nuances, context, and idiomatic expressions, enabling them to produce accurate and contextually appropriate translations. Human translation is widely considered the gold standard for quality and is best suited for projects that require precision and a human touch, such as legal documents, marketing materials, literature, and highly technical content.

Machine Translation (MT)

Machine Translation, on the other hand, relies on artificial intelligence and algorithms to automatically translate content from one language to another. While MT has made significant advancements in recent years, it still struggles with accurately capturing context, idioms, and cultural references. MT is suitable for basic communication needs, such as getting the gist of a foreign language website or understanding simple instructions, but it is not recommended for critical and sensitive content.

Post-Edited Machine Translation (PEMT)

To combine the benefits of human expertise with the efficiency of machine translation, Post-Edited Machine Translation (PEMT) comes into play. In this approach, content is initially translated by a machine, and then a human translator fine-tunes the output to improve accuracy and quality. PEMT is often used when dealing with vast amounts of repetitive content, like technical documentation or user manuals. While PEMT can save time and costs compared to full human translation, it still requires careful editing to ensure the final result is coherent and error-free.

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When choosing a translation service, consider your specific needs and the nature of the content you want to translate. If accuracy, cultural understanding, and nuance are paramount, opt for Human Translation. If you have large volumes of repetitive content and need quick results, Post-Edited Machine Translation might be a suitable choice. And for basic, non-critical tasks, Machine Translation can be sufficient.

What Types of Translation Should You Use?

The type of translation you should use largely depends on the content and context of your project. Let’s explore some common translation techniques or methods used in various scenarios:

Direct Translation Techniques

Direct translation techniques involve conveying the exact meaning of words and phrases from one language to another. This approach works best when dealing with technical documents, scientific texts, or legal contracts where precision is vital, and creativity or interpretation should be minimized.

Oblique Translation Techniques

Oblique translation techniques, on the other hand, focus on capturing the essence and meaning of the source text while adapting it to the target language’s cultural context. Literary works, marketing content, and creative writing often employ oblique translation to maintain the intended impact and emotional resonance.

Why Are Machine Translations Not Common?

Despite significant advancements in machine translation technology, relying solely on machine translations can still lead to several issues:

  • Contextual Understanding: Machines lack the ability to fully comprehend context, leading to inaccuracies and misinterpretations. Machines struggle to identify and interpret contextual cues, leading to ambiguous translations that may be misleading or nonsensical. This limitation is especially problematic for content that relies heavily on context, such as legal contracts or literary works.
  • Cultural Nuances: Machines struggle to grasp cultural references, idioms, and colloquial expressions, potentially leading to awkward or nonsensical translations.
  • Technical and Industry-Specific Jargon: Machine translation struggles with industry-specific jargon and technical terminology. In fields such as medicine, law, or engineering, accurate translation requires specialized knowledge that machines may not possess.
  • Subjectivity and Creativity: Creative content, such as poetry or marketing slogans, often requires a degree of subjectivity and creative interpretation that machines cannot replicate. Translators need to understand the intent behind the original text and creatively adapt it to resonate with the target audience.
  • Lack of Human Touch: Machine translations can feel robotic and lack the human touch that comes with the cultural understanding and empathy provided by human translators. This can result in text that feels impersonal and disconnected from the target audience.
  • Quality Concerns: Machine translations often result in unnatural and error-prone text, affecting the credibility and professionalism of the content.
  • Confidentiality: Machine translation services might not guarantee the security and privacy of sensitive information, making it unsuitable for confidential documents.

How Long Does Translation Take?

The time required for translation depends on several factors, such as:

  • Length and Complexity: Longer and more complex documents will naturally take more time to translate.
  • Language Pair: Some language combinations are more challenging and time-consuming than others due to linguistic differences.
  • Translator Experience: The proficiency and experience of the translator can influence the speed of the translation process.
  • Project Management: Efficient project management and communication between the client and translator can expedite the process.

BLEND’s fast translation services allow you to receive your project back quickly, many times within 24 hours.

The Future of Translation Services

As technology continues to advance, the future of translation services looks promising. Hybrid approaches that combine machine translation with human expertise are likely to become more prevalent. Machine learning and artificial intelligence will continue to improve the accuracy of machine translations, making them more reliable for certain types of content.

However, human translation will remain a crucial element in the translation industry, especially for tasks that require cultural adaptation, creativity, and critical accuracy. The demand for human translators with domain expertise and specialized knowledge will persist, ensuring that critical documents and communication are handled with the utmost care.

Translation agencies will also play a pivotal role in the future of translation services. These agencies will continue to evolve and adopt the latest translation technologies to enhance efficiency and streamline the translation process. They will serve as a bridge between clients and translators, facilitating smooth communication and ensuring that projects are delivered on time and to the highest standards.

How to choose the right translation services

Understanding the different types of translation is crucial for making informed decisions when seeking translation services. Human Translation, Machine Translation, and Post-Edited Machine Translation each have their strengths and weaknesses, making them suitable for specific situations.

For professional, accurate, and culturally relevant translations, human translation remains the preferred choice for critical content. Machine Translation and Post-Edited Machine Translation can be useful for certain projects with high volumes of repetitive content, but they require careful review and editing to ensure quality.

As you embark on your translation journey, consider the type of content you need to translate, the level of accuracy required, and the cultural sensitivity necessary for a successful translation. 

Get the perfect balance of human and machine translation with BLEND’s fast, quality translation services. BLEND’s experienced professionals ensure your content reaches its intended audience effectively, bridging the language gap and fostering global communication.

Remember, translation quality matters, and investing in professional translation services can make all the difference in effectively conveying your message to the world.

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author post

Corinne Sharabi

Corinne is the Social Media and Content Lead at BLEND. She is dedicated to keeping global business professionals up to date on all things localization, translation, language and culture.


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