Machine translation is the process of using artificial intelligence to automatically translate text from one language to another without human involvement. It can be done using either rule-based or probabilistic machine learning approaches. Modern machine translation goes beyond simple word-to-word translation to communicate the full meaning of the original language text in the target language. It analyzes all text elements and recognizes how the words influence one another.
There are several different machine translation strategies that have emerged, including statistical machine translation, rule-based machine translation, and neural machine translation. Neural machine translation is considered to deliver the best machine translation results as of 2022. However, even with neural MT tools like DeepL Translator, post-editing by a human is usually needed to ensure that the machine-generated translation will be useful to a human being and that publishable-quality translation is achieved.
Machine translation can be a useful tool to speed up and simplify translations, as well as producing flawed but useful low-cost or ad-hoc translations. However, it is important to note that machine translation is based on probability and does not understand the meaning or the context of what it’s translating. Therefore, while machine translation may save time and money, human translators are essential when the message needs to be accurate.