Monday, 26 September 2016

Human Translation VS Machine Translation

Human Translation VS Machine Translation

Written By: Assistant Instructor Ibrahim Talaat Ibrahim

Deputy Head of Translation Department

The article highlights the importance of human translation in comparison with machine translation by giving examples in both fields. So, translation is defined as the process of rendering a written text (source text) from the source language into another language. This is why; translation is defined as a tool of transferring civilizations, cultures and thoughts. (Munday, 2009: 18)  

As for machine translation, it is one of the branches of computational linguistic industries. Besides, it is the process of rendering texts, sentences and words from one language into another one by the employment of the computational software. Moreover, machine translation is classified into three types according to the rate of human intervention in them. So, it is either direct one, it is called (Machine Translation (MT)) or it is aided one, it is described as (Machine Aided Translation (MAT)) or human aided translation which called (Machine Aided Human Translation (MAHT) or it is called Interactive Machine Translation (IMT)).    

Despite human attempts in making a difference in the field of machine translation, it still suffers from many setbacks on different levels. For example (Google Translate App) user comes across mistakes in translation once he counts on it.

 Both of them are great

كلاهما عظيم              (Machine Translation)

كلاهما عظيمان         (Human Translation)

The example mentioned above shows that there is no harmonization between the number and adjective in other words. Machine translation failed in pluralizing the adjective (great in Arabic) because adjectives are not pluralized in English. Therefore, this feature was retained in the target language without any change.


Kick the bucket

(Machine Translation) ركلة دلو 

(Human Translation) يتوفى  

The aforementioned example refers to the failure of machine translation in rendering the real meaning of the idiom into target language because it translated it literally only.


He has been working hard since 1990

(Machine Translation)             كان يعمل بجد منذ عام 1990       

(Human Translation)            مازال يعمل بجد منذ العام 1990


Machine translation did not succeed in transferring the right grammatical aspect into the target language because the aspect of the abovementioned example is (Present Perfect Continuous). It refers to an event happened in past and it is continuing in present moment and it might last in future as well. Besides, one of the indicators of the aspect explained above is the word (Mazal in Arabic), whereas the translated sentence is in past simple tense which means an event happened in a specific period of time in past and ended.   


Finally, human translation surpasses machine translation clearly through the examples given in the article accompanied by the elaborations and it proved that the mind of human translator is far better than all computational software. In other words, human translators are indispensable.    


  • Munday, Jeremy Introduction to Translation Studies P.18. Translated by Hisham A. Jawad, Reviewed by Adnan K. Abdullah. Abu Dhabi: Kalimah. 2009. 
  • retrieved on Monday 26/09/2016

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