Google has just added the capability to create your own custom phrasebook for translations. Does this mean the end of the translation business? Of course not! Whilst it is true that machine translation is improving, and in the technology space having a list of translations for specific phrases is an important element of getting good translations, we’re still a long way from machines being able to produce text that sounds like a human has written it. Or even reliably communicate the key message. Whilst it’s interesting to see the work that is being put into machine translation, there is such a huge gap between getting the gist of something written in another language – machine translation is awesome at helping people do this – and communicating in an effective and persuasive way. I think we’re still a long way from the point where computers will provide an acceptable translation of PR and marketing materials. And a very long way from when they will provide effective translation.

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