Is it the end? Will machine translation end the need for translators? Well I don’t think it will. It is just another too that can be used.
This is a rather controversial issue. There are lots of translators who embraced it and work with it and others who loathe and refuse to do so. Well, we need to understand what these tools are and then make up our minds about it.
Machine translation and CAT tools
First of all, we need to understand what these tools are and the differences between them. Machine Translation and CAT tools are not the same thing. Machine translation tools are programs used to translate text. A good example of a machine translation tool is Google translate. CAT tools are also programs but they translate from words that you have previously inserted in their memory. In every project you put through a CAT tool, the program records the words on that project and the translation you used, so when you insert your next project, the tool will automatically recognise the words from its memory and translate them.
Are they the end of translators?
I don’t think so. These tools may be able to translate, but you would’t trust them with your legal documents, or any other important documents, would you? The need for a professional translator will always be there. These may just be another challenge in our profession, but I don’t believe it would be the end of it.
A professional translator can provide service, assurance, accuracy and quality. A machine cannot provide that. Even when used by professionals these tools are just an aid to their work and then they have the final input. It depends on the field and the type of text to be translated. In some cases, it may be acceptable to use a machine, in others it would be totally unacceptable.