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AI Adoption In Translation Industry

As COVID-19 brings the whole world into a halt, new technologies such as artificial intelligence play a key role in every aspect of the pandemic crisis response. Not only does it help tracking the spread and fighting with the virus, it also unwittingly accelerates the adoption of AI technology in different industries. The translation world is undoubtedly of no exception, with AI translation becoming the mainstream.

New frontier of translation technology

Neutral machine translation (NMT) in the latest approach for statistical machine translation (SMT). SMT’s translation algorithm is complemented with the knowledge of a particular language’s sentence order and terms. It is still sometimes denounced for its numerous errors to be business-worthy even though serving an effective translation tool. NMT does not only use a fraction of the memory required by its predecessor, it also employs both deep learning and representation learning. It is designed to imitate the neurons of a human brain, making connections, learning new information and assessing input as a whole, generating a more precise and quick translation.

Benefits for businesses

There is always a reluctance across the industry to adopt any kind of machine translation, as language service companies concern about the quality of work while translators being anxious about the decrease of work volume. Contrariwise, with its deep learning capability and sophisticated encoder and decoder system, NMT is considered more effective in handling word ordering, syntax and morphology, reducing translation error by up to 60%. To safeguard the quality of work, post editing supported by experienced linguists is always the most powerful backing in order to tackle highly creative content and low-resource languages. NMT is no longer restricted in serving certain businesses when it comes to localization. It is of a great help to all kind of companies, transforming businesses across cultural and language barriers.

Localization service demand surges as the world becomes smaller with technologies and every company strives to reach out to global customers in order to survive in the stiff competition. Time is always the key to success in this fast-paced world. And for small businesses with limited funds and resources, acquiring professional translation services can be expensive. With its instant output ability and high accuracy, it is believed that time-to-market for localized content can be reduced by 25%.

Frequent localization service user may be familiar with the word-count based pricing system for the translation industry, but occasional users may not be used to these parameters. With the design to be user-friendly and highly flexible, most of these NMT portals run on a subscription model, attaining a price that fits into all business sizes. Clients are able to pay for their required services only, from real-time translation, on-demand translation, NMT to post editing service, providing higher degree of flexibility and autonomy, comparing to traditional localization service. 

With the advancement of technology and a solid supporting system, thanks to numerous people working at the back, the future of translation technology is bright. Adopting smart technology into business automation is the best option to bridge the language and cultural gap between the company and its customers.

AI Translation: Expectations Vs. Reality

AI technology has drastically improved due to scientists enabling computer programs to ‘self-learn’. Hence, a computer can re-program its own code in order to function better at its task at hand. Which begs the question, is AI translation set to become another norm in our lives?


What is AI Translation?


Rather than using a human translator, an AI translation will automatically translate one language into another. As a result, allowing you to comprehend what someone is saying in another language and hold a conversation with them.

AI technology can read individual words in a number of languages. It finds the similarities between the different languages that exist between words. Thereafter, building a translation!


The Advantages of AI Translation


When people hear that AI translation tools exist, they tend to expect translation tools used in sci-fi programs. Such as Doctor Who and Star Trek, where you hear people talking in your native tongue. However, this is far from reality!

Instead, the main advantages of AI translator tools in comparison to human translators is that AI is both cheaper and quicker. Here are some of the other advantages of using AI to translate languages:

  • Quality in domain- and language-specific engines is enhanced
  • Incredibly quick, normally only takes a minute or so
  • Ideal for websites
  • AI tools will let you translate a large number of languages, whereas a human may only be able to translate one or two
  • Becoming more accurate

The Disadvantages of AI Translation


Although machine translation looks good on paper, there are a number of disadvantages:

  • Accuracy can be low in some industries. (You may not realise this as you may be unfamiliar with the language)
  • Mass localisation is poor, with some languages giving more accurate results than others
  • AI does not recognise the context something is said in, so can produce confusing results
  • A language mistake can be very costly i.e. a tattoo in another language


The Reality


Many people put a lot of faith into AI translation tools because they see them as a fast and low-cost way to translate a large volume of texts. This is very common in industries such as Finance, E-Commerce, Legal etc.. AI translation may prove to be a powerful tool to achieve massive localisation. However, the accuracy of the different languages is not yet standardised.


In Conclusion


If you need something translated from another language, you should weigh up the cost of a bad translation against the cost of using a human translator. A bad translation will not only cost your turnaround to be longer but it also costs more money to resolve the mistakes!

If you’re looking to localise an e-commerce website or a large-scale portal, then AI translation is wonderful. In fact, you can leverage on a domain- and language-specific translation machines and human post-editing to translate high volume contents to targeted languages.

This encourages the user to repeatedly visit your website and may even recommend it to friends.

Is AI Translation Really Changing the Industry?

As the business arena becomes more globalised, the need for localisation via translation grows and that growth fuels the need for better and more effective translation technologies (such as AI translation). As they say, necessity is the mother of all inventions. This philosophy stands true even for translation technology.

The growth in translation needs gave birth to machine translation (MT), which overcame much of the challenges posed by traditional translation processes. But new challenges keep cropping up. Fortunately, newer technologies are showing up to save the day.

One such technology is Artificial Intelligence or AI-based translation. AI translation offers distinct advantages compared to the older MT technology. For instance, it can factor in linguistic nuances and context to provide more accurate translations.


Already in Play


AI-based translation is already at play. You can see it everywhere from Google to Facebook. For instance, if you visit an international website via Google, you’ll have the option of seeing the translated version. There’s almost no human involvement or intervention here. It’s Google’s own automated translation service.

Microsoft is also offering its own real-time translation app, which can translate speech, text, and even images. What’s even more amazing is that this application can run offline, making instant translation a reality.

Even Facebook switched to AI translation as its primary approach in 2017.

One of the key benefits of AI translation is that it factors in context and entire sentences, which boosts accuracy.


Neural Machine Translation (NMT)


Traditional MT relied upon existing translations or translation memories to get the job done. However, now, we have something called Neural Machine Translation or NMT.  NMT makes use of translation memories as well. But it goes further and uses something called deep learning to boost translation accuracy.

NMT literally builds what is called an artificial neural network, sort of a like a human brain. What does that mean? Well, it means that the system can correct itself by going back, assessing, and correcting its approach or method.

On the contrary, traditional or statistical MT relies on correlation to choose the best possible translation. This method simply does not provide the same level of accuracy.




AI-based translation has come quite far. However, there are still some challenges to be overcome. For instance, AI translations are still plagued by grammatical inaccuracies. There are also complaints of such translations lacking nuance.

So, human translation still remains a necessity. Though AI translation may be evolving, it is too soon to predict its overall impact on the translation and localisation industry.


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