Why translation requires a human touch

Is a human touch still needed now online translation tools are available? In today’s digital-first world where online tools are easier than ever to access, there are plenty of options to translate text into multiple languages, but how accurate are they, and should they be used in the business world?

Search online for translation support and you’ll see plenty of websites that can take your text and translate it into another language faster than you can refill your cup of coffee.

Machine translation is technology that uses software to translate text or speech from one language to another. For businesses looking to operate across multiple countries, machine translation may be considered as a low-cost solution for bridging language gaps.

These powerful online platforms, readily accessible at the click of a button, offer instantaneous translation, and capability has grown over the years to now offer translation of full documents. When considering using these tools though, it’s important to understand how effective they are at navigating local nuances and culture, the historical significance of the words being used and where they may cause potential offence if directly translated into different languages. This is where using a human touch for translation has huge benefits.

Language is more than mere words – it is the essence of culture, nuance, and human emotion, which machines are unable to fully grasp.

Literal translations often miss the mark, failing to convey the original text’s subtleties, emotional cues, and cultural context. A sentence that is technically correct may be culturally insensitive or may miss idioms entirely, leading to misunderstandings or offence.

Humans however are innately equipped to understand context, sarcasm, irony, empathy, and cultural emotions. In legal matters, a single misinterpreted term due to cultural oversight could lead to a lawsuit, or in the engineering environment, it could result in an accident or major incident. Nuances like these make human oversight indispensable. Where technical documentation translation is required, it is even more important to ensure every term is clearly translated.

Localisation extends beyond translation; it is the process of adapting a product, content or service to a particular language, culture, desired local tone and style.

Localised text resonates with the target audience more powerfully and authentically as it has been adapted for local sensibilities and regional dialects. Without the human touch of someone who understands these intricate aspects of language and culture, full localisation is very difficult to reproduce through machine translation.

Here at NRL, we work with clients every week to ensure they have professional and high-quality translated versions of a range of documents – from sales presentations to technical documentation and marketing campaigns.

To do this, we’re grateful for our community of experienced linguists who have a detailed understanding of the languages they translate and the local cultures. As well as experience supporting the industry sectors our clients work in, so they can recognise technical terms and industry acronyms, and carefully translate material into different languages.

If you’re looking for translation support for your business, then get in touch with our team and we’ll be happy to chat more about your requirements.