Why Hire A Human?

Hand holding a white smartphone in close up It seems every time there’s a new app that can “automatically translate” one language to another someone is ready and waiting to show me how easy our jobs as Interpreters really can be. At a business event recently a young man pulled out his cell phone as soon as I explained what I did and said “Why hire a human? – this app can do anything your Interpreters can do”……

Oh Lord, not again…….

The misperception that every language has words or phrases that can be ‘automatically’ translated into another language’s words or phrases is just not true. Every interpretation needs to consider not only cultural differences, but environment, situation, even emotional states of everyone involved. Human sensitivities and respect is not something that can be written into code…

A machine cannot give an eye shift when interpreting to a college student that the professor is really emphasizing the importance of a topic – or express to a hospital patient the optimism or seriousness in the voice or word choice of their physician.

An app cannot sit in a therapy session and convey emotions that are never expressed in words – that actually need the proper linguistic choices that communicate reactions of trauma, grief or desperation.

Endless examples could be given, but the short of all is this – ‘Why hire a human?…I believe is simply because we are human and if we take the human to human out of communication, there is no true understanding.

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