What is the difference between Human translation and Machine translation? Here you go the answer


 Translation has been the science of communication since day one. As long as there is an interaction between humans from different backgrounds and languages, the need for translation will evolve.   

Also, due to the huge amount of daily produced content, the need for external aids for translators has increased.   Here comes the need for machine translation mainly.   

AI tools and Machine Translation tools (MT) came to life to help human translators overcome the workload effectively and more accurately.    

However, many translators are afraid that machine translation might kick them away. Their fear is expected as the MT tools replaced many of the translation tasks in a very short time.    

For a fair comparison, we will need to explain what is meant by human translation and machine translation, then explain the difference between both them.     

What exactly is Human Translation?  

It is a translation done by a human to transfer the meaning from one language to another. Usually, translators are native speakers of the source language with a high level of fluency in the target language. They can convey the feeling, tone, and message behind the written text, whether it is an article, a book, or any other type of written media.    Also, human translation is done by experienced translators how to have knowledge of the text’s subject matter and are aware of its jargon and terms.   

The existence of human translators is important for the success of many international events. For instance, in the Olympics – Tokyo 2020, there were over 30,000 translators and interpreters throughout the games to offer language assistance.      

What exactly is Machin Translation? 

It is a system designed to use machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) programs to translate a large number of texts, with a variety of language pairs supported.    Machine Translation tools and applications are programmed to convert the source text into a target text without human intervention. 

There are four main types of machine translation   

Rule-Based Machine Translation (RBMT)

RBMT tools rely on grammatical rules to produce a translation. It analyses the grammatical rules of the source and target text.    

Statistical Machine Translation (SMT)

SMT tools create translations based on the statical models derived from bilingual text analysis. It doesn’t consider the context. The possibility of inaccurate translation is high, yet it can be a good tool for understanding the gist of the text. 

Hybrid Machine Translation (HMT)

Hybrid MT tools are a combination of both SMT and RBMT, it makes use of a translation memory with a significantly improved quality.    

Neural Machine Translation (NMT)

Based on the neural network in the human brain, it employs AI to learn languages and improve that knowledge.    NMT is the latest development in the history of machine translation. It is the technology used to build applications such as Google Translate, Amazon Translate, and Microsoft translation.   

The NMT applications are meant to make the translation process faster, easier, and more accurate.   

Which one to use?  

Well, there are many considerations to think about to decide which one to use, human or machine translation.   In the following section, we will compare the cons and pros of both human translation and machine Translation. In terms of speed, accuracy, and cost.   

Human Translation VS. Machine Translation (Speed, Accuracy, and Cost)


Human translation is relatively slower than machine translation. A human translator can produce around 2000-3000 words in 8 hours, and a machine translation tool can produce the same volume in minutes.   

However, the time spent in understanding the text’s subject matter and writing a creative translation leads to an accurate and high-quality translation of the source text.   

Machine Translation on the other side, guarantees faster translation of the text. If you are up to translating a large number of texts in a short time and do not care about quality that much, you are better to go the machine translation route, than the human one.   


Human Translation is accurate as humans have a better understanding of language evolution, cultural sensitivity, and the relation between words. These are things, a human can do better than machines.   

Machine translation is an assisting tool for translators when it comes to the meaning of words and terminology outside a context.   


The cost is for the effort. Human translators put too much effort into a text to sound like it is written by a native speaker and of course, high quality means a higher price.  

As machine translation tools produce larger amounts of translation in a shorter time, they are less expensive than human translators in most cases.   

Also, machine translation can be a good option when you want to translate a large project with a tight deadline. 

How to choose between Both?

This is a tough question to answer as there are many variables to consider. Some of them are the subject matter of the text and how powerful this or that machine translation engine is in the language you want to translate into.   However, I will give you an answer based on my experience in working with both human translators and machine translation tools.    

Literary texts such as poetry and novels can’t be translated by machine translation. These texts are about the connotative meaning behind the words, and the emotions the poet or the writer wants to deliver through the literary work. It’s only a human can react and convey these sentiments.   

Marketing campaign texts need a human translator. Machine translation tools don’t understand idioms or slang a marketer might use to convey the marketing message,    Machine translation can be a good option for informational texts such as user manuals, company emails, or business documents. Usually, this type of text is written in a direct language and can be translated easily by a machine translation tool, such as Google Translate.   

  • Accuracy: Human translators are able to understand the nuances of the source text and translate it into the target language accurately, even if the text is complex or technical. Machine translation, on the other hand, can sometimes make mistakes, especially with idiomatic expressions or cultural references.
  • Naturalness: Human translators are able to produce translated text that sounds natural and fluent in the target language. Machine translation, on the other hand, can sometimes produce translated text that sounds awkward or unnatural.
  • Creativity: Human translators are able to be creative in their translations, finding ways to express the meaning of the source text in a way that is both accurate and idiomatic. Machine translation, on the other hand, is limited by the rules of the translation engine.
  • Cultural awareness: Human translators are aware of the cultural nuances of the source and target languages, and they can translate text in a way that is sensitive to these differences. Machine translation, on the other hand, can sometimes produce translations that are insensitive to cultural differences.

Some of the benefits of human translation services:

  • Accuracy: Human translators are trained to understand the nuances of language and culture, which allows them to produce accurate translations that convey the original meaning of the text.
  • Creativity: Human translators can add a creative touch to their translations, making them more engaging and readable. This is especially important for marketing materials, creative content, and other types of communication that need to be persuasive or impactful.
  • Cultural sensitivity: Human translators are aware of the cultural differences between languages, which allows them to produce translations that are appropriate for the target audience. This is essential for avoiding misunderstandings or offense.
  • Expertise: Human translators are experts in their field, which means they can translate technical or specialized documents with accuracy and precision.
  • Affordability: Human translation services are often more affordable than machine translation services, especially for high-quality translations.

Overall, human translation services offer a number of advantages over machine translation services, including accuracy, creativity, cultural sensitivity, expertise, and affordability. If you need a translation that is accurate, creative, and culturally sensitive, then human translation is the best option.

  • Machine translation is the use of a computer to translate text from one language to another. It is a type of automatic translation.
  • Language translation is the broader term that encompasses all methods of translating text from one language to another, including machine translation, human translation, and hybrid translation.

The main difference between machine translation and language translation is that machine translation is done by a computer, while language translation can be done by a computer or by a human. Machine translation is typically faster and cheaper than human translation, but it is not always as accurate. Language translation can be more accurate, but it is also more time-consuming and expensive.


As you have seen machine translation is different from human translation. However, each one of them has its pros and cons.   The applications of machine translations are wide. You probably have an app on your smartphone translated by a machine translation tool.  

However, human translation is still valuable and is needed when a curated translation is needed for important documents that can cost money or save lives.