The Top 3 Disadvantages of Machine Translation

AI and machine translation have evolved phenomenally over the last decade or so, yet there are still many disadvantages to using them, especially when the translation is to be used in a professional setting such as, localizing a company website, translating marketing materials or adding subtitles to corporate training videos.

Machine translation has its uses – but not in the business world where mistranslations, cultural mistakes and grammatical and punctuation errors can cost you customers and damage your brand integrity.

We’ve listed the top 3 disadvantages to machine translation here, just in case you aren’t convinced!



1. A Lack of Accuracy

Language and meaning can be problematic to comprehend.

There’s humour, dialect, innuendo, ambiguity, colloquial phrases, homonyms, and so on, which can all affect how what we say is interpreted.

Human translators understand this, machines don’t.

This can lead to machine translations which are full of linguistic mistakes, lack contextual accuracy, and are erroneous in multiple ways.

Translations completed solely with a machine often lack the natural flow of human speech or writing and can appear stilted, muddled and incoherent.

When humans translate a document, they will have an in-depth knowledge of the languages being used; the structures, meanings and context. They will have background knowledge linked to the translation such as, specific industry experience, cultural awareness and an understanding of the brand.

Machine translations do not offer a human level of understanding.

They can’t re-read a passage to infer the correct meaning, they can’t call you to check your intention of a humorous phrase and they don’t review, edit or proofread.

If you want an accurate, meaningful, and sensible translation, ask a professional human translator!



2. A Lack of Cultural Understanding

Language is intricately linked to culture; it evolves over time to fit with our customs, history, landscape, people, and unique experience.

This means, that even when two countries use the same language, there can be vast differences in the use and meaning of certain words.

For instance, English used in the UK is quite distinct from the English language used in the US.

Translations which are completed solely using machine translation lacks the contextual understanding of a human translator and will often fail at inferring meaning in humour, sarcasm, wit, and tone of voice.

Professional human translators are able to delve into the meaning of a document or particular passage and adapt the words to fit the intended audience without losing the meaning of the original language.

So, if you want a perceptive, culturally and contextually accurate translation, ask a professional human translator!


3. A Lack of Industry Knowledge

You should have grasped from points 1 and 2 just how difficult it is to create an accurate translation using only machine translation.

However, when you are performing a translation for a company, it is even more important to get it right, and this usually means having an in-depth knowledge of the specific industry in which the company operates.

For instance, if a law firm requests a translation of court documents, they need to be 100% accurate which requires a comprehensive knowledge of law in both the source, and the target language.

A human translator, who has worked within the law industry, is the best choice for a precise translation.

Many industries use terminology which is specific to their particular field; medicine, law, PR and marketing, TV and movies, engineering and IT (among others) all have very precise language and terminology.

A professional, human translator, who has worked within or is trained in the required industry, will understand these complexities and be able to effectively translate documents, contracts, websites, and so on, with a high level of accuracy.

And so, if you want industry terminology to be accurate and require a meticulous translation, ask a professional, human translator!


At Creative Word, we only use native speaking linguists, many of whom are experts in various industries, so we can guarantee an accurate, cultural appropriate and industry-specific translation.

Contact us now to discuss your requirements and we’ll be happy to help with your translation project.

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