Not long ago, the idea of computers translating languages was something of the very distant future. Yet now, with the development of programs like Google Translate, Bing Translator and Skype Translator, this futuristic concept is somewhat a reality. But this reality poses one big question; can machines really replace translators?

Online translations certainly have a role to play in the world. They’re practical tools for situations where immediate and inessential information is needed. Imagine travelling overseas and needing to read signs or wanting to say “hello” to locals, online translation would definitely come in handy.

But for professional translation, experts who are craftsmen, linguists and proofreaders all in one are essential. Translation requires professionals who can decide on and implement a strategy to communicate the message. To put it simply, professional translations require experts in culture.

Cultural diversity around the world is incredible; no two cultures understand concepts in exactly the same way. For example, for many Australians ‘family’ means blood or marital relations and we tend to think of our closest members. Whereas in Africa, ‘family’ refers to more than just direct blood relations, it also refers to community members and loved ones. In Africa, family is more than just a word; it’s a shared responsibility. Try getting Google Translate to explain that!

So, even if one-day computers are able to master 90% of all languages worldwide, one roadblock they will always face is culture.

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