For years now we have been hearing that new tools can do translations automatically and translators are no longer necessary. But to what extent is that true? The process of translation might have been misunderstood as a process of “transposition” of words. Let’s see why.
The initial point for the theories stating that human translation could be replaced by software programs was short after the invention of robots. For centuries, the fantasy of machines doing human activities has lain in the human mind that is at the same time eager to see it happen and afraid of it becoming true. However, the original concept seems to be erratic. For ages, scientists have worked on the design of better models of robots, and they have achieved many goals. However, none of this progress has reached the complex process of language.
Automatic translation works on the basis of recognition of terms. A file is scanned; a term that can be either a word or phrase is spotted by the software. The term is compared to other thousand terms in several aspects – preceding and following words, location in the text, and the general topic of the document of course. Then the term is matched with a small number of possible translations, which, in some programs, are assessed by a criterion defined by the people who developed the program. And finally, a word or phrase is produced to be used as the match of this word in the target language.
The outcome of that process can be correct or not. Some specialists have worked out percentages of rightness but the truth is, when it is your document that is being translated a failure in the translation of a word does not represent 30 %, 50 % nor 80 %. It represents 100 % of the word was wrong. And the number of mistranslations will turn your text into an encoded message as difficult to decode for the readers as for the author.
This situation makes us consider the following matter: what do we mean by translation? Is a translation the same as a batch of intricate paragraphs composed of approximate equivalents missing proper inflexion, and lacking in meaning? The subject of automatic translation may have been focused on the transposition of objects, rather than the quality of the outcome. And there lies the mistake. A distorted version of the original in another language is to be considered a translation?
After presenting this arguments then we can state that automatic translation IS possible but only if a twisted collection of mistranslated words wrongly arranged are considered to be a translation. Otherwise, no.