Exploring the advantages of human translation can help your company determine the best option for your translation services. Quality is a crucial indicator of which service is best for you. Many companies are looking for the fastest translation method possible. As a result, many companies opt for machine translation services. However, the precision of accuracy and cultural sensitivity in the content is lacking. 

What Is the Difference Between Human and Machine Translation?

Human translation is when a human can translate one language to another while focusing on style, tone, and cultural nuances to determine accuracy. Machine translation is based on algorithms with predefined patterns resulting in impersonal straightforward translations. Machine translation can improve productivity for companies by translating more material quicker. However, the consistency and cohesion throughout the translation may be questionable. 

Advantages of Human Translation Vs. Machine Translation

When embarking on a translation project, you may find yourself comparing the benefits of human translation vs. machine translation. Machine learning has grown exponentially as a fast and efficient translation method. The cost alone may have you considering it as your only option. Machine translation falls flat in its inability to translate with 100% accuracy – and today, people notice.

The rapid growth of the Korean Netflix show “Squid Games” received major backlash for the botched Korean to English translation in the subtitles. Fluent Korean speaker Youngmi Mayer even stated that  “if you don’t understand Korean, you didn’t really watch the same show.” Translations such as ‘What are you looking at?’ turned into, ‘Go away [in subtitles]. With billions of videos released enraged by this error, it is clear that people are expecting precise quality translations.

When using a human translator, the content will be of higher quality as the linguist works in their mother tongue. The detail and creativity that goes into translating the content can help identify potentially significant errors that could result in a damaged brand reputation. 

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Here are some key advantages of human translation: 


  • Human Translation: A human linguist factors tone, audience consideration, and creativity to ensure 100% accuracy.
  • Machine Translation: Translates word-for-word with 80-90% accuracy.

Human translation bridges the gap between inadequate translations and a new level of understanding for the reader. With modern machine translation, human translators will still have to correct about 10% to 20% of machine-translated content to ensure accuracy. Human translators can provide flawless translation services that machine translation cannot.


  • Human Translation: Labor-intensive with higher costs for better quality translations.
  • Machine Translation: Cost-efficient with quick results. Better for non-client facing material.

Companies often stray from human translation services as they are not the most cost-efficient solution to meet the high demands of translated content needed to maintain productivity. As a result, machine translation is chosen as the primary method to save time and costs. 

If your company prefers to pay for a software-driven service, it could help save on the labor-intensive costs of hiring a human translator. For example, Google translate API offers $20 per 1 million characters. However, tone and context may be lost in the automated translation process. If your material is not customer-facing, this solution may suffice for your needs.

A human translator may charge up to 0.20 a word, but the content will be translated to the highest quality possible. You may prefer to pay more for human translation for better accuracy and cultural understanding. Ultimately, language choice, context volume, and platform will determine the final translation cost

Cultural Knowledge

  • Human Translation: Linguists translate in their mother tongue to address cultural nuances.
  • Machine Translation: Lacks cultural sensitivity appropriate for quality translations.

The success of a translation can be determined by how it resonates with the reader and is greatly dependent on cultural language particularities. For example, consider native speakers’ nuances and tone and phrases. A human linguist will consider cultural and regional intricacies when translating content.

Take, for example, the last name Burrows. While it is clear it is a name being translated, machine translation may think the content is referring to a hole. The content may begin to trickle into references to an opening in the ground rather than a person. This error may be easy to correct for a simple translation, but imagine if the content refers to the CEO’s last name? You now have one small translation that turned into a monumental mistake for a company. 

Machine translation engines lack a thorough understanding of the context. As a result, machine translation fails to translate the meaning of the content perfectly.

Pairing Human Linguists with Machine Translation to Produce Quality Results 

There are many benefits to human and machine translation. While there are significant advantages in using human translation for quality, using this service alone may not suffice for the amount of material needed. At Bureau Works, we mesh the two together. We use machine translation to augment human translation, but not as a replacement. 

We recognize the high demands companies require for quality translation services. With that, our localization management platform integrates human intelligence with the speed of machines. This process improves the quality, accuracy, and turnaround time of translated content simultaneously. 

Bureau Works understands the quality advantages of human translation. If you are planning your next translation project, contact our team to learn more about our services. 

Published On: March 29th, 2022 / Categories: Business Translation, Tips & Trends, Translators /

Gabriel Fairman

March 29, 2022

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