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Sample Essay - overall band: 8.5-9.0

Posted on October 21, 2016 at 9:00 AM

Machine translation (MT) is slower and less accurate than human translation and there is no immediate or predictable likelihood of machines taking over this role from humans. Do you agree?

by Yulia Borisenko (obtained IELTS General Overall Score: 8.0, October 2016)

A number of arguments can be made to support an idea that computers would replace translators in the nearest future; yet the opinion that humans are more competent than the artificial intelligence in the sphere of translation seems to be reasonable, as will now be proven.

First of all, machines are showing considerably worse results in recognizing subtle meanings and allegorical expressions than humans. The lack of this ability, which is essential for correct translation of poetry and fiction, may cause a significant number of mistakes. For example, computers tend to translate such figures of speech as metaphors and epithets literally, and, as a result, they make a wrong interpretation of an author’s idea. (Therefore, they are not able to compete with humans in producing quality translations of emotional texts)*.

Another factor to be taken into consideration is that the artificial intelligence recognises words in a sentence separately, usually offering word-by-word translation. It means that it takes words out of the context and is not always able to choose a correct equivalent of a word with multiple meanings. Take the word ‘ball’ which defines different items in the spheres of industrial design and sports, and confusing these meanings might lead to misunderstanding of the original text. (This makes it clear that computers are not reliable when it relates to translating texts from various scientific fields)*.

In addition, computers are adapting to the changes in languages more slowly than humans. New terms appear almost every day and become widely-used in a matter of hours. As human translators are able to search for a new word and to determine how it should be translated, the machines will need to wait until the word appears in their dictionaries. (Consequently, humans are able to produce correct translations at a higher speed)*.

In conclusion, the current state of machine translation proves that computers would not be able to replace human translators in the nearest future.

(318 words)

* These sentences can and should be extracted due to over wording and the fact that conclusions are not necessary in every paragraph of an IELTS essay


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