In an age where Google Translate offers almost instantaneous and largely accurate translation for a plethora of languages and where e-readers such as the Amazon Kindle provide built-in translators for every book, it appears that the translator, as an actual job for a person, has become an outdated concept. But is this truly the case? In this text I will examine the pros and cons of digital translation as well as that of traditional human translation, and I will give a subjective opinion on which one holds most advantages long term.
The aforementioned Google translate is a good example of how technology has evolved into creating a ubiquitous environment for information exchange that is unhampered by language barriers. Translating any text on the internet becomes a simple matter of copy-pasting the chosen text into the Google translate bar, choosing your language and then having the translation done almost instantly. Though the translation is not always accurate, the user can easily use context to gather the full meaning of the translated sentence.
There are, however, many pitfalls to relying on this technology. The speed of such translation service is impressive, but it is limited to the grammatical and contextual accuracy it is able to produce. Often it will provide the user with mismatched, patchwork sentences that even change the original context. This can lead to confusion and grave mistakes if used for business or legal translation. Google translate, however, is not the only type of digital or machine based translation available.
A wide variety of digital translation software exists, even ones that feature voice recognition, though these are still in prototype form. They do share the same pitfalls: accurate translation is often impossible without awareness of context, something a machine cannot provide until an artificial intelligence is created. Human translation, on the other hand, has its own share of downfalls, made more obvious when examining the advantages of digital translation. They are much slower, and cumbersome to obtain. Context can also be a pitfall as many translators will chose different ways to interpret and translate words, depending on the language and mood.
While digital translation seems to have quite a few benefits over human translation, it is obvious that until an artificial intelligence able to contextually comprehend language is invented, human translation will always have the upper hand. The speed of translation is a sacrifice anyone would easily make for accuracy and creativity in translation.