90% of global online customers do not speak English
Whether your business is international or exclusively U.S. market-based, you need to take advantage of the many advantages of machine (computer-aided) translation (MT) software on your website. Adding translation capability to your website is usually free – and, if properly integrated, completely seamless and intuitive.
Consider that 90% of global online customers do not speak English, a radical reversal of English internet dominance in the 1990s. Also, in the U.S., many Hispanics and other non-native consumers prefer to read website content in their first languages.
Machine translation offers many advantages:
- It is both instantaneous with cost completely independent of the volume translated. By comparison, a translator, on average, translates 2,000 words per day for 20 cents per word.
- Even if a human translator is available, machine translation is much faster. One early study (Ablanedo, et al., 2007) found that a free Web-based MT system was 195 times faster than humans.
- Further, MT and human translation are not mutually exclusive. If a highly accurate, nuanced translation is required for a specific document, you can pay a professional to ensure accuracy. That said, MT provides college-level accuracy for most language combinations.
- MT ensures confidentiality and security. By comparison, giving sensitive data to a translator involves potential risk.
- Adding MT to your search process permits translation of keywords in native languages, providing more comprehensive results.
Disadvantages of machine translation:
- While MT translations between European languages are usually good, those involving Asian languages are less so.
- MT has not advanced to the point functioning as a self-sufficient translator of specialized (medical, technical, etc.) content without the need for final editing by a professional human translator. However, we are now beginning to tackle this problem with statistical and other techniques to better handle such things as differences in linguistic style, translation of idioms, and the isolation of non-standard syntax.
- There are many historical examples of translation gone wrong for major brands, serving as a warning of the critical importance of precise translation. For example, Pepsi’s slogan “come alive with the Pepsi generation” was translated into Chinese some years ago as “Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the grave.”
To reiterate: If you need a nuanced, to-the-word, accurate translation of for a specific document, we encourage you to support your MT software with a human professional translator to ensure accuracy.