How Translation Technology Enables Multilingual Content
Traditionally, website translation involved lengthy manual processes. Hiring a professional translator was just one aspect, the other aspect was ensuring that the translated content was displayed on your site, which took up valuable development resources.
The whole process was laborious and for many business owners reason enough to delay a global business expansion. After all, if your website is not displayed in several languages, you have little chance of attracting new markets because they will not be able to understand your offer.
Although the traditional way of translating a website can still be used, website translation tools make website translation easier. But how exactly do they work to achieve such results?
The technological trifecta
Like most technologies, translation technology always introduces something new every year. However, experts believe that the tools used today are based on three cutting-edge technologies.
Machine Translation (MT)
Early translation tools were machine-based, meaning they performed translations with rules and conditions entered into the device beforehand. As old as this technology may seem (first introduced in the 1950s), machine translation remains widely used today for its fast translation, extensive language options, and lower operating costs.
An important factor in the continued use of TM is artificial intelligence, giving rise to neural-based TM. By creating a neural network that can mimic the functions of a human brain, developers can input large amounts of linguistic data. Therefore, translation tools can translate entire paragraphs with acceptable or even high accuracy.
In fact, the days of machine translation making laughable mistakes are long gone. Neural-based machine translation is paving the way for many marketing teams looking for fast and accurate website translation.
Computer-assisted translation (CAT)
CAT involves the use of translation software, which may sound similar to MT. However, while MT is completely self-contained, CAT works with human users to provide more accurate translations. In this setup, machine translation plays a secondary role to the deep contextual knowledge of human translators, usually as reference material.
A disadvantage of CAT is its limited application. Unlike MT, which can benefit anyone with enough know-how, CAT is designed for expert translators.
Translation Management System (TMS)
A TMS combines the best of both worlds, especially the automated efficiency of MT and the human understanding present in CAT. The machine does most of the heavy lifting while the user examines the result and makes creative changes if needed. A TMS may also go by other names such as a Globalization Management System (GMS).
This technology goes beyond content translation. Companies transacting in foreign markets find TMS tools useful due to their ability to streamline workflows and develop effective business strategies. It will not be uncommon for TMS software to include features to improve multilingual search engine optimization.
One of these industry-leading website translation tools combines neural-based machine translation with professional translators and full editing control allowing you to translate your entire website in a matter of seconds. minutes. Weglot, a WordPress translation plugin, also translates any website technology, both translating and displaying your site content.
Will human translators be obsolete?
The improvements in results that translation technology provides are anything but apparent. According to an industry source, based on edit distance, neural translation systems are improving by 3% to 7% every year. Edit distance refers to the extent to which a developer must modify the code of a translation system to provide a result that rivals human translation.
These numbers may seem insignificant, but these incremental improvements add up to improvements in technology every year. The more accurate the translation technology, the less humans need to review their results, at least in theory. But if the technologies discussed earlier are any indication, it will take some time before translation technology can be completely independent of human intervention for several reasons.
First, several studies have shown that neural TMs tend to “hallucinate” or give results that are not from the source material. These hallucinations may be grammatically correct, but they make little sense in their context. Companies and organizations using translation software cannot afford such outings, especially when translating crucial documents.
Second, automation has not yet reached its zenith despite significant progress in many sectors. Even though humans won’t translate as much in the coming decades, they will still have a role to play in creating better translation technologies. Their ability to understand contexts deeper than a machine will remain an advantage.
Translators and other relevant professionals may need to upgrade their skills to adapt to emerging technologies. A report by the World Economic Forum indicates that three in ten companies worldwide say they will need to retrain their workforce. Either way, the costs involved are a small price to pay compared to breaking down language barriers.
There is no denying that translation technology has come a long way from using predetermined rules to using what essentially works by electronic brains. The technologies involved have opened many doors to new opportunities. What’s next is anyone’s guess, but people, for now, are happy to be able to switch between languages with just a few clicks.