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Why Automatic Translation is (Mostly) a Bad Idea

Michael Gallagher
Michael Gallagher
Posted in Zoom Mar 25 · 26 Mar, 2022
Why Automatic Translation is (Mostly) a Bad Idea

Due to everyday commerce and business globalization, translation is fast becoming an indispensable requirement. However, some methods to achieve clarity from one language to another are better than others. Automated translation is increasingly prevalent, but it’s far from ideal. Read on to better understand its shortcomings and why human translation should be your go-to choice for language conversion.

​How Auto-translate Can do More Harm Than Good

Most people have dealt with translation at one point or another, knowingly or otherwise. When reading something in a language you’ve mastered, it’s apparent from the get-go whether or not it’s comprehensible and reliable. Something poorly crafted and unintelligible won’t get you very far, and this happens in most cases with machine translation.

Here you’ll learn about the different forms of translation and how quality can make or break a situation, decision, reputation, or even a company. You’ll also find out when it’s okay to use automation and when to hire a translation service. This knowledge will help you determine what’s suitable for you and your business or personal needs.

​Understanding the Definition of Translation

Before going any further, it’s best to pinpoint the definition of translation. In a nutshell, it’s rendering text and its meaning from one language to another. Translation technically deals solely with the written word, whereas interpretation is spoken.

There are at least a dozen different types of translations, including website, judicial, script, medical, financial, and commercial. All serve a particular purpose, and any errors in them can cause irreparable damage. This is one of the reasons why it’s imperative to use human translation.

​Human Translation Versus Machine Translation

With human translation, a person essentially does all the work, converting words into a different language while retaining as much meaning as possible. This doesn’t happen with auto-translation, which is extremely lackluster and leaves a lot to be desired.

If you enter “translate my website automatically” into a search engine, you’ll come up with some enticing results, and most of them are free. This is a draw for many, but you get what you pay for.

Machine translation generates text without rhyme or reason. Automatic tools like Google Translate and Microsoft Word Translator can’t add the human aspect to their output. This leads to awkward phrasing, improper context, or outcomes that are an indecipherable mess.

​The Quality of Translation

Quality is a crucial aspect of translation. If you want to go on vacation and pull up information about a foreign country, you won’t tolerate reading a poor translation, as it would ultimately prompt you to look elsewhere. The same is true when shopping online for goods or services.

Automatic translation doesn’t deal with syntax and grammar. It can understand words, but it doesn’t “care” about context. This leads to poor output that can be disastrous to any reputation. Sure, suppose you have a few specific words here and there to translate. In that case, it’s perfectly okay to use an automated solution: it’s performing its intended operation and can’t do much damage. But when you need an accurate translation, the smartest move you can make is to go with a human translation service such as GoTranscript.

​Professionalism in the Results

Search engine optimization (SEO) content is critical for online success. Mechanical translation doesn’t take this into account, and specific keywords don’t translate well and lose their SEO impact. Professional services provide SEO recommendations and apply targeted keywords in the respective language so you won’t suffer from the consequences of shoddy search performances.

Going a bit further than this, when an algorithm performs your translation, it uses a word-for-word format. To search engines, this constitutes duplicity. Duplicated texts are red flags for sites like Google and Bing in that they allude to traffic-generating tactics. Therefore, duplication incurs a penalty and gets pushed lower in the search engine results.

​Speed and Efficiency

Machine translation is incredibly unreliable. Ask any translator out there, and it’s likely they’ve had to deal with correcting an auto-translated document at least once or twice in their career. It’s a time-consuming task that usually takes longer than translating from scratch. This is wasted money and effort, and simply not worth it for both the translator and client.

Don’t be your worst enemy. Instead of automatically generating a translation, suffering the consequences financially and reputation-wise, then having to get the botched job professionally fixed, streamline your efforts. Skip the hassle and avoid potentially catastrophic situations in the first place by electing to use a professional company to handle all your translation needs fuss-free.


Unless you’re only translating a few sporadic words, the wisest move you can make is going with a translation service such as GoTranscript. Don’t risk potential issues and unprofessionalism: trust, clarity, and accuracy are crucial to your success.