Automatic translation: what it means and what it represents

Automatic translation: what it means and what it represents

What is automatic translation?

“Automatic translation” means substituting words from one language to another. It is software that translates a text in a very short time with little human effort. 

How does it work? It is usually (and hopefully) based on corpora. Words are translated automatically because of other words nearby. However, because a machine can’t think, it can’t give a perfect translation. It lacks context and meaning. For more on this, take a look at our blog post about Common Mistranslations

What does automatic translation mean for “human” translators?

There are two opinions on the subject:

  • It means that a machine with no faculty of thought could take the translator’s place. The machine works rapidly. 
  • On the other hand, using a machine could be useful when the topic is technical. Likewise, when one just wants to understand the general meaning of a text. This can help the translator in post-production. That is to say, the translator can edit and proofread the machine-translated text until it reads naturally.

Does automatic translation represent a real threat?

The answer is: it depends. If a machine translation is trained in a specific field, the resulting technical translation could be useful. It represents a threat if the translator is afraid to be replaced. However, it could also be an opportunity for the translator to save time by working with the text post-production.

However, if one wants to translate a literary text, the machine translation will fail. Why? Because in a literary text, you will find metaphors, allegories, hidden meanings and more. A machine cannot identify these figures of style and will therefore produce a very poor translation.

How Lingostar can help you

We always have your translation done by the best professionals. We offer a wide range of translations in over 100 languages in different fields of specialization. If you need more information or if you need any help with language services, call us on 604-629-8420 or send us an email at

And, of course, if you want to know more about this topic, check this interesting blog post from SDL Trados or check our series of ebooks on Multilingual Website Translation!

We look forward to hearing from you!

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