Why Human Translators Have a Future

Around fifteen years ago I sold my last batch of share in my translation company. I sincerely believed that machine translation was around the corner and my company had limited earnings potential.

While I was right on some ways I was wrong in others. The standard documents, business correspondence, and software manuals dried up for sure. But other things came along. Prices for translation actua lly went up in some areas.

Literary translation was always the exception. It requires years; of skills and writing talent, familiarity with the author and his genre, not to mention the ability to tread a fine line to make a book commercially viable. It also pays very little.

Other areas that will never be replaced are scientific or medical documents and most certainly political content. As a translator for some very important figures in politics I was sometimes old that “ the minister doesn’t like that word “. A machine will never catch those nuances.

But it is in my food blog I started http://instagram.com/worldfooduniquethat I found a much more mundane reason not to rely on Google translate and other systems.

Take pepper for example. In German or French, Pfeffer; or poivre are always black pepper corns, which are Scotch bonnet in the Caribbean, where peppers and chilis, like in English (the plural) and bell peppers are dried paprika in German or Hungarian, and so on.

Some meat products have entirely different names in different regions. A tortilla in Mexico is a different food than in Spain. How would an artificial intelligence ever know what you mean, given the fact that most people are not aware of denominations outside their local traditions?

We have a long way to go before machines will replace humans in most areas. Some are obvious, others less so.

Published by Dr. Martin Hiesboeck, Ph D

Futurist, Marketer, Policy Advisor

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