Translation apps, a particular form of machine translation, have become a vital tool for many people who need to communicate across language barriers. For travelers and everyday citizens, these apps allow for quick and easy communication, making international interactions simpler and more efficient. The most popular translation apps available today offer a full range of features and capabilities. They can be used to translate text, audio, and video, as well as to access other language-related services.

The most popular apps, such as Google Translate, Microsoft Translator, and iTranslate, offer a variety of features, including automatic language detection, speech-to-text translation, and even real-time audio translation.

For travelers, translation apps can be an invaluable resource. They can be used to quickly get information about unfamiliar places, interact with locals, and even order food. What’s more, many translation apps can be used offline, making them perfect for travelers who don’t have access to a reliable internet connection.

Translation apps can be utilized to learn new languages or simply to help understand a foreign language. Many apps offer a range of language-learning features, such as interactive lessons, flashcards, and quizzes. This makes them an ideal tool for anyone looking to enhance their language skills.

Considering the amazing utility of translation apps, it may seem natural to leverage machine translation of this type for localizing your business content and material. After all, as a translation option, translation apps are indeed highly convenient and economical or even free. But is this really such a good idea?

In this article, we’d like to evaluate the possible use of translation apps, and by extension machine translation in general, in the context of international business.

Let’s look at this excerpt from a TrueLanguage article:

“It’s true that some businesses, generously funded enterprises with extensive global outreach programs, do employ full-time translators on-site.”

As an experiment, we ran this sentence through Google Translate. We translated the English separately to Spanish, German, Portuguese, and French. We then used professional human linguists to translate the results back into English. Here are the results:

It’s certain that some businesses, businesses generously financed with extensive programs of global reach, employ full-time translators on the site.

It is true that some companies, well-funded companies with extensive global outreach programs, engage full-time translators on site.

It’s true that some companies, generously financed with extensive programs with global reach, employ full-time in-house translators.

It is true that some companies, which are generously financed through large international awareness programs, hire full-time translators on site.

As you can see from a single sentence, machine translation apps provide spotty results and can change the meaning when translating a single sentence. A paragraph, article, or white paper can become unintelligible. Even if the reader can get a sense of the original meaning in some cases, it can still be a frustrating experience.

Clearly, such automated translation needs a real, live human being – preferably a professional linguist – to adjust it so that it accurately reflects the source material. In other words, computerized translation like this requires a human in the loop. This review process is known as post-editing.

When a company’s reputation, brand, or sales are on the line, relying on machine translation and translation apps without professional human post-editing can be disastrous for your bottom line. It can damage customer and vendor relationships and, in a reverse halo effect, cause your valued connections to wonder what else you are getting wrong if your communications are so mangled.

At TrueLanguage, we have worked extensively in the legal, medical, and scientific fields. You can only imagine the repercussions if your carefully crafted documents, contracts, or manuals lose their original meaning and intent during translation. It could affect livelihoods and people’s health.

In marketing, branding, and website copy, getting lost in translation can cost sales, goodwill, and customers, making the difference between profit and loss.

Perhaps a day will come when AI has advanced to the point that it doesn’t require human input and correction for the process of accurate translation. That day, however, remains beyond the foreseeable future in spite of many remarkable advances.

So, with all that in mind, on your next overseas vacation, go ahead and enjoy the benefits of on-demand translation from convenient, machine translation apps on your phone. They make it much easier to do everything from communicating with your Uber driver to ordering from the menu. When it comes to your business communications, however, such apps, when they aren’t supported by human post-editing, most definitely aren’t the translation solution that best suits your needs.

TrueLanguage uses certified translators and expert linguists who are not only native speakers of target languages but subject matter experts as well. Our 3-step signature process can simplify even the most complex projects, and our TrueGlobal™ and LocalVoice™ trademarked approaches ensure accurate results the first time and every time, on time and on budget.

Contact us for a free consultation. We can help you with your next translation project every step of the way.