Advances in technology have changed the way translation is getting done. With machine translation, or translation computer software, able to translate entire documents at the click of a button and at very low costs, one might ask themselves why they might even bother to hire a human translator to do their business translation work. But hold up just a minute, as there are several problems that come from machine translation that can only be overcome by hiring a human translator. Keep these in mind before choosing to use machine translation as these problems with the translation will become business problems if you don’t get them resolved.

Quality Issues

Quality issues are perhaps the biggest problems you will encounter when using machine translation. No computer software is able to process the context in which a language is being used and thus to which the translation needs to occur. With tens of thousands of words in every language and several different meanings to thousands of words based on the context of a word being used, it is impossible for a computer program to understand context, especially in complex situations. Humans, on the other hand, are able to understand the language in the context it is used. This is because we are able to understand emotions, non-verbal communication, and culture, which all have an effect on the context of language as it is used. Without being able to understand all of these factors, machine translation will always have problems with the quality of its translation.

Can’t Receive Feedback or Collaboration

Though iPhone’s Siri does a good job of impersonating a self-thinking artificial intelligence software, in reality, it isn’t self-thinking and thus has many problems with collaboration with the end user. Trying to get a program to give you feedback or collaborate with you isn’t realistic. This means that if you are trying to translate an important marketing message into a foreign language for your marketing team getting ready to launch a new product in a new global market, you won’t be able to receive feedback or collaboration from any software on the best way to translate that into the foreign language. Sure, you can translate the message through some software and hope the message makes sense in the foreign language to the unknown market you are looking to penetrate. But then you are simply gambling. Business is about setting yourself up for success by only taking calculated risks. In translation, this can only come from leaning on someone who has expertise and experience in translating and working in the foreign market, such as working directly with a professional translation firm.

Lack of Creativity

“Language is an art which can only be mastered after thousands of hours of exposure and practice”

It is said that language is an art which can only be mastered after thousands of hours of exposure and practice. Though machine translation does a decent job of translating some subject matter, it most surely can’t master the art of language which involves a lot of creativity. This creativity is important to understand when communicating with business partners or clients within your global market and also when communicating your message to potential clients in that same market. Human translators with expertise and experience in both languages at hand will be able to be more creative with the subject matter at hand and thus deliver a more creative solution that will resonate with your business partners and customers.

Lack of Sensitivity To Culture

Each country has its own culture (sometimes several cultures) which in turn have their own values and norms that are followed. The values and norms of each culture influence the way people within that culture communicate with each other. Without having experience with the culture, it is impossible to know which values and norms to be sensitive to when communicating. Machine translation cannot be sensitive to cultures’ values or norms. This can cause problems by delivering the wrong message to your business associates or customer, or even worse offending them when you’re not meaning to. This could potentially cause your business many problems which can be very costly as it will affect your performance in that foreign market.


Though machine translation has the benefits of quickly translating content at a low cost, in all reality it is not the best solution for most of your business needs. For these, consider working with a professional translation firm who has both the experience and expertise to navigate effective communication within foreign markets.