The language industry is evolving constantly and, although a huge number of technology solutions are assisting the work of language professionals, nothing will ever outperform human interpreters. This article is in partnership with Day Translations, the organisers of the Day Awards celebrating the best in the language industry, rewarding the best translation tools, translated content and language professionals. You can cast your vote to select your winner at the 2022 awards.
Why The Role of Human Language Interpreters Is Essential
In a constant “battle” between humans and machines to gain more efficiency, many organisations prefer to streamline processes as much as possible by using various types of machine learning and artificial intelligence. While these technologies are certainly helping in multiple sectors and functions, human intervention is still absolutely vital and here is the key reason why.
Knowledge Gained Through Preparation
While machines can crunch enormous masses of data in record speed, they lack the level of sophistication, synthesis and creativity that only seasoned language professionals bring to the table.
Just like you are more likely to be successful at a job interview if you research the company you would like to work for in depth and build a rapport with the interviewer, possibly asking them questions about the company culture, when it comes to language interpretation a professional interpreter brings with them a wealth of knowledge and experience that allow them to create trust with a client and with all the members of a multi-language conversation.
Trust is something that no machine can fabricate out of thin air (although I am sure in a few years’ time humans may need to find alternative ways to build trust, but until then… humans have the advantage!). Sure, websites can be “trusted” if they have a padlock symbol next to their ‘https’ on the browser bar to confirm they hold a security digital certificate, but this type of trust does not equate to the feeling of wanting to do business with a person or organisation based on their reputation.
An experienced professional language interpreter prepares for each job by thoroughly researching the clients and organisations that need interpreting. This includes a serious amount of reading, watching and listening to information in different types of media and different languages.
The Power of the Human Mind
The human mind distils information (yes, just like a good whisky!) and makes sense of it, bringing together data from different sources. When a professional interpreter listens to a speaker to then translate the speech into another language for the benefit of an audience, they automatically and instinctively process years of knowledge into seconds adding cultural references and nuances.
This is particularly important for conversations that require a sensitive handling of information, for example political broadcasts or presentations about protected members of the community such as children. Using the right terms that don’t cause offence to the audience or opens it to discrimination or attack is something that only humans with solid training can do. Any type of blunt wording is absolutely unacceptable in these circumstances and machine-rendered language translation will not have the correct safeguards to ensure certain topics are treated with the right level of sensitivity.
Examples: Sexism and Ageism
Let’s say a conversation that needs either simultaneous or consecutive interpretation revolves around under-represented groups in politics. Under-represented groups can include women, people from different ethnic backgrounds, LGBTI+ people, the elderly, people with disabilities.
Not only language is constantly changing and adapting, but when it comes to these communities is it absolutely imperative to use inclusive language that does not cause offense but, on the contrary, that elevates and values their contribution to society.
To be able to have the command of two or more languages to convey the correct message in the best possible way to all members of a conversation, a professional interpreter must have first class education, superb training, strong research skills and a combination of intelligence and emotional maturity that are difficult to match.
A machine-translated conversation is likely to cause offence by containing ageist or sexist comments, even though the intention of the speaker was not to offend anyone.
Of course, at times translations must relay controversial messages without filters, but that’s a different story.
In conclusion, although at times software tools can make life easier for certain tasks, when it comes to language interpreting in particular cases when discretion is needed, only humans are the best for the job.