Speedy Values flex with machine translation

Quality or Speed?

Traditional Translation, carried out by professional linguists and specialist translators is becoming a luxury, as translation users elect speed of machines over accuracy of language and security of information.

At Aplomb, we have seen improvements in the quality and speed of translations over the past 27 years. Speed has increased from post and fax to scans and instant emails. Much of this improvement is driven by technological advance. The layout and formatting of tables, accounts, ship’s logs, advertising pages and web pages have all been made easier and tidier through the arrival and improvement of computer software. Access to on-line information helps to translate words and phrases into proper contexts. Amendments are faster to implement. Certainly spelling mistakes are rare these days.

Now, speed of technological innovation has caused a shift in customer values. Speed has flexed it muscles through machine translation and has re-defined quality standards for translation into separate tiers. The highest level of quality is no longer requested from certain market sectors. Some customers do not want perfect translations of all their material. Sometimes they just want to know what the message is about instead of what it actually says. They want to know if it is a recipe for chocolate brownies or for lemon poppy seed muffins. Is it an article about air-conditioning ventilation ducts or cooling tower ducts? Along with this need only for a rough idea comes the added value of the speedier access to knowledge.

Choosing speed over quality is a trade off. Knowledge of the original text will be partial and there will be errors – both contextual and grammatical. A roughly and loosely translated text will give the general meaning, but it will not portray the style nor the tone or the inferred message of the particularly chosen words of an original text. Some words may be translated literally, instead of into their equivalent translated phrase is. Others may be translated from their most common meaning rather than the correct technical term for a specialised context. However, if the end use of the translation does not require perfect attention to detail, then perhaps this choice for speed at the risk of accuracy is justifiable?

At Aplomb, we investigate technological advances to see where we can streamline our processes to ensure quality, decrease costs and increase our speed of delivery. The competitive translation market requires this. So far, it is not yet possible to feed legal pdf documents into a machine and have a perfectly translated text print out on the other side. Legal documents, like their producers, are  a class of originals. Until the time arrives when all contracts and disputes are standardised and no longer require lawyers to write individual creative arguments and to take individual statements, professional legal translators will still be needed to provide true and accurate translations of the highest quality.

Aplomb works for many of the world’s top law firms, carefully translating legal arguments that revolve around the detail of the written word. Our legal customers require certified translations, fast. They cannot, however, risk compromising on quality. And that means, neither can we. Proofreading is a vital element of quality control. Thus, speed of delivery is limited by how long it will take a professional translator to read the complete source and target text, following completion of the translation. At Aplomb, quality is still our highest priority, and it is the individual attention to detail of our trained and experienced legal translators that maintains our superlative standards. Our clients expect it, as they rely upon us to express their fine nuances and details of fact truly with aplomb.

So quality or speed? The determining factor will be the context and the intended use of the translation. The highest quality of translation will always remain the aim for literary translations for publication. However, speed takes priority over style when requesting directions using a machine translator. Speed of texting. For Aplomb’s customers, only top quality translations will do. Quality cannot be compromised for speed. Our clients now work to shorter and tighter deadlines and require us to match them. Customer requests push development of processes and solutions. We know that at the top of the translation market, professional standards are paramount and so we continue to strive to find new ways to increase our speed of delivery while perfecting quality.