With rapid and on-going advancement in translation technology, one may wonder if it could be possible that one day the language barrier would tumble and crumble. On this topic, Alec Ross predicted, “the language barrier is about to fall“. How very decisive! But David Arbesú has a different opinion based on the following three reasons:

1. Languages don’t follow a particular set of rules strictly;
2. What you say is not necessarily what you mean;
3. The perfection and rationality of machine is in conflict with the imprecation and irrationality of languages.

As a translator/interpreter, I side with David on an emotional level, because obviously I take pride in what I do and I believe in the uniqueness and the irreplaceability of the role that human factors play in our business. What we do is not just a preprogrammed process of input > algorithm > output. I’d like to think that there’s an element of art, of creativity, in our work. Unless the machine has gained true consciousness, I don’t think it will ever be able to do what Shakespeare or Leonardo Da Vinci or Confucius do.

Read more about David Arbesú’s article: https://newrepublic.com/article/132148/language-barrier-actually-fall-within-next-10-years

(First posted on 29 Mar 2016)