If you use the Internet, you will already know that artificial intelligence (AI) has transformed many aspects of our lives. And, of course, the field of translation is no exception. With its extraordinary ability to process large amounts of data, learn from that data and produce (more or less) accurate translations, AI has become an essential tool for translators. However, what happens, for example, when translating is a creative task? In today’s post, our London translation agency wants to share with you the limitations of AI in creative translation, a specialty where the human touch is fundamental.

The essence of creative translation

What do we mean by creative translation? We are talking about literary translations, translations for media agencies, audiovisual translations and the translation of any other type of creative content that, like any type of translation, goes beyond the mere transposition of words from one language to another.

Creative translation is about capturing the essence and style of the original content and adapting it in a way that resonates with the target audience. This is only possible thanks to the skill, creativity and knowledge of the local culture provided by a human translator. We don’t need to tell you that these features are only available when using flesh and bone translators.

Limitations of AI in creative translation

Although AI is a powerful tool, it’s not entirely reliable, especially in creative translation. What are the limitations of AI in creative translation?

  1. Understanding: AI has difficulty capturing cultural and social nuances and things like irony, humour, idiomatic expressions, sayings and multiple meanings are beyond its algorithms. Creative translation often requires cultural adjustments that AI cannot manage.
  2. Creativity: Nor can it create things like metaphors and puns. This shortcoming results in inaccurate or unnatural translations.
  3. Knowledge of the target culture: AI is incapable of adapting a translation to the intended reader.
  4. Context and emotion: AI doesn’t understand the context and emotions behind the words. In these types of texts, tone and emotion are crucial, but AI tends to produce literal translations that lack such nuances.
  5. Preservation of the author’s style: Human translators can do this, while AI tends to homogenise language.
  6. General understanding of the text: AI does not understand texts as such, it has no comprehension and cannot do research if it doesn’t understand something.

The future of creative translation: the synthesis of human creativity and AI

As we’ve seen, machine translation with AI is far from perfect. Although it can be a valuable tool to facilitate the work, it’s the translators who add the creative and cultural touch, as well as the passion that results in an exceptional translation. This is most needed in the field of creative translation.

This type of translation requires a deep understanding of the language, culture and literary techniques of the languages of origin and target. Human translators possess the literary skill, creativity and artistic expression needed to retain the essence of the content they are translating. In other words, human nuances are needed to bring a text to life in a different language.

A collaborative future?

As we already know, artificial intelligence provides speed and efficiency, but it also has serious limitations that only a human translator can overcome.

That’s why translation companies in the United Kingdom, such as Okodia, are starting to use a new hybrid method, machine translation with post-editing. This combines artificial intelligence with human knowledge. Using this service means recognising the limitations of AI in creative translation, where it can never be a complete substitute for human translators, and promoting a harmonious collaboration between technology and human talent.

Andrea Galiana

Author Andrea Galiana

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