Translation apocalypse: stop the machines before it’s too late!

The end is near! This is your last chance to save yourself, and the world as we know it—the robots are taking over!

If this apocalyptic scenario sounds a bit far-fetched, let us clarify a bit—the translation world as we know it is at risk, but the threat remains the same: robots.

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As we’ve written before, machine translation is a real risk. People no longer value professional translation, under the mistaken assumption that machine translation from services like Google and Bing are sufficient. Of course, we know the reality: the quality is nowhere near acceptable for most types of communication, and in some cases is just totally incomprehensible. But good luck convincing them!

And the battle is a tough one—the deck seems stacked in favor of machine translation. Two of the most popular services on the web, Google Translate and Microsoft Translator, conveniently are listed at the top search results in their respective search engines for many important, translation-related keywords and search terms, giving them more visibility and making it harder still for people to find—or even know about the existence of—professional translation.

Still, we can’t blame it all on machines. Some of us are enablers. Yes, while most translators are honest and hard working, there are those few who ruin it for the rest (more conmen than translators, really) by actually passing off machine translations as their own, hoping that as long no one proofreads it, and their client is monolingual, they’ll get away with it. And unfortunately, this doesn’t just hurt the unsuspecting client, but the entire industry; when word finally gets back to the client that their translation isn’t readable, or that it looks like it was done by Google Translate, next time they’ll just not bother—and maybe next time, just cut out the middle man and go straight to the source, relying on a machine translation for something “good enough.”

Be prepared!

Respectable agencies, like Translation Cloud, screen their translators, check references, ask for samples and have a third-party verify the quality. We’ve even developed a tool to combat the rise of the machines, Cheating Translators, ironically using a machine against itself to determine whether a translation seems genuine or machine-generated.

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Together, honest translators staying honest and continuing to do good, solid work, and bad translators being blacklisted and found out through services like Cheating Translators, and all of us spreading the word and conveying the importance of quality, professional translation is the only way we can curb the robot uprising. Armageddon is not inevitable, and we will win!

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