A Succinct Case for the Enduring Value of Human Interpreters

The Economist recently published an article on the state of consumer translation apps offered/bundled into Google & Microsoft's Skype.  High-profile/high-quality journalism often has gems buried in the user comments generated by their quite-informed user bases (here's looking at you, New York Times, The Atlantic, QZ.com and, of course, The Economist!)

The article in question contained these two gems:

"The true enemy of machine translation is not complex language or cultural differences, but human psychology. It is easy to find two perfect synonyms with diverging effects on readers' minds. Yale researchers found that "climate change" and "global warming", often used interchangeably, generate very different responses."


"Machine translation (MT) will not work when it comes to legal translations such as court rulings, written pleadings, legal opinions and the like where there is so much involved that an MT system cannot handle. This is not only about the intricate writing style where MT is useless."

Machine translation offers cheap, ubiquitous and (getting closer every day to) "good enough" approximations of authorial/speaker intent.  But for high-stakes, hi-pressure contexts - where bespoke, boutique interpreting makes a difference - judgement calls about speaker intent & nuance matter, and will for the foreseeable future.

To the extent that our clients have sophisticated and abstract businesses, with history, arcana, and lots of "for form's sake" stipulations, we trust you'll see the the intriguing value in this list of hashtags

#Patent-ese #Legal-ese #Court-ese

-- hashtags to which we'll be returning soon.