The engine powering the globalisation of content needs watching

In 2010, the former Google CEO Eric Schmidt said that, every two days, we were creating as much information as we had done from the dawn of civilisation up until 2003. This statement is now eleven years old and long outdated. Today we are probably producing the same volume in half a day or even less. There’s no doubt about it: it is virtually impossible to grasp the sheer quantity of text content that is generated, shared, published and (at least in part) read every day. If you took all translators the world over, they would only be able to provide a small fraction of the content in a selection of languages.

Machine translation

Learning systems. Luckily, it is now possible to translate texts into countless languages immediately, whatever the time and place, often free of charge. And it is not plenty of highly qualified, experienced linguists hammering out the texts, but machines. The new system generation of machine translation (MT) “learns” to imitate human translations with deep learning and neural networks. That is how artificial intelligence managed to establish itself in automatic translation tools. Every day, Google Translate translates more than 100 billion words into more than 100 different languages. The DeepL website comes ninth in the list of the most frequently visited websites in Switzerland. Machine translation has become part of our everyday life.

The explosion in the volume of text that needs to be translated into several languages requires tools of this kind. The wooden, grammatically incomplete, sometimes unintentionally funny sentences that machine translation systems were presenting us with until just a few years ago are a thing of the past. The quality has improved dramatically. A success story that will soon allow us all to communicate with each other without any problems in this multilingual world? Not entirely. There are a few pitfalls to watch out for.


The great opportunities of machine translation

  • Used intelligently, machine translation facilitates efficient processes in multilingual communication and thus a faster time to market when it comes to your publications.
  • This speed of translation makes it possible for you to increase the number of multilingual texts. Your content gains in terms of its geographical scope, reaching much larger target groups.
  • No loss of quality in spite of fast translation workflow: language professionals fine-tune the machine translation in a process known as post-editing.
  • An optimal collaboration between man and machine overcomes language barriers and facilitates internal and external communication. Top technology in conjunction with language expertise from industry experts gives rise to a whole new range of communication options!


What are the limits of machine translation and what do you have to bear in mind?

  • Data protection aspects – a very sensitive area, especially if you are using a free service, because anyone using such services automatically consents to the use of uploaded data. There is only one way of approaching confidential or personal data: hands off!
  • Company-specific language. An off-the-peg machine translation system can translate your corporate language consistently. It will no doubt be right in terms of content. But such systems cannot take the tone of your corporate language into account. The translations are often not precise enough, are open to misinterpretation and are not terribly elegant.
  • Semantics (meaning). Machine translations read fluently in the target language, but the translation might not be entirely correct when it comes to more complex texts. Semantic errors mean that sometimes the machine-translated text says the exact opposite of what the source text intended. Without having translations checked and edited by language professionals, translations are an underestimated risk because, in a worst case scenario, they can result in economic and even legal consequences.
  • Creative language. Texts intended to make an emotional impact, for example as used in advertising, rarely achieve the desired effect when translated by machine alone. Cultural language specifics are important, but are often ignored. This kind of text has to be post-edited by a language professional so that your message is correctly received in the target language.



Machine translation is now indispensable in modern processes of multilingual communication. But it has to be used intelligently – with language professionals at the helm, overseeing intelligent post-editing, and with solutions that guarantee data security and will accurately reflect your corporate identity.

Do you have any questions about language technology or a planned project?

I would be happy to tell you more about our development department and our technological possibilities – and introduce you to Apostroph Group.
Philipp Ursprung
Head of Translation Technology

Apostroph offers solutions as well as consulting services for all methods of using machine translation. We orchestrate technology, cost-efficient processes and expertise, tailored to your communication needs and system requirements.

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