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Do small and medium-sized businesses prefer human or machine translation?

Medical Pharmaceutical Translations • Jun 30, 2020 12:00:00 AM

“Time is money”, the saying goes, and so it stands to reason that companies would prefer machine translation’s speed to human translation.

But a new study of small and medium -sized businesses in the European Union shows that’s not the case.

Conducted from December 2019 to March 2020, the study found that 40% of participants had never even used machine translation.

As for the companies who had, most saw machine translation as distinctly separate from human translation. For tasks like automated responses on websites and emails, or customer service, machine translation is often chosen over human translators. But when it comes to tasks like contract signing, communicating with public administration abroad, and marketing, human translation was overwhelmingly preferred.

The results are reassuring for us human translators, and also make sense: while machine translation can be efficient and effective, it will never achieve the subtlety of a human being.

For instance, when it comes to marketing, machines have trouble translating concepts like idioms, slogans, and humor from one language and culture to another.

That being said, it would be interesting to see the role of human and machine translation in other international markets. Would there be slight differences, or even major ones?

While we don’t have an answer to that question for now, we do have a lot of additional interesting information from the EU small and medium businesses translation study. Read on to learn more.

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