I'm honestly a bit scared

When I grow up I want to have a job that uses a lot of languages, because that is my passion. But I am afraid that Google translate and other computer programs is going to take it all away!!! Someone please comfort me.

Sorry I know that is a weird post.

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Although it’s quite impressive compared to how it used to be Google translate still translates so many things badly/poorly, nor will machines ever be great at trying to translate implicit meaning. Only very literal straight forward things.

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But the time you grow up, technology is pretty much guaranteed to change every field of interest you may get involved in at this point. And, you have no way of predicting how. You wanna be a race car driver? Well that’s pretty much gonna be a robotics job soon. (It’s gonna be Tesla vs. Google geek teams competing on who can build a better autonomous race car.)

My point is, it doesn’t matter. If languages interest you then study languages for the joy of it and try using them when you can. If there is a way to monetize that skill once you enter the workforce, then you’ll be ready, if not, you’ll still have the languages as part of you, google isn’t gonna take them away.



The far greater “threat” to you, in my opinion, is that more and more parts of the world will have very high numbers of people who speak native level English (or very nearly native level) as a second language.

It’s already the case in places like Denmark, Holland, Norway. In 20 or 30 years time it’ll most likely be the case in all of the bigger European countries too - and throughout South America. That isn’t to say there would be no value in knowing the local languages in these places. If you wanted to read their literature, or do serious primary source research, and stuff like that, you’d still need to learn the language. But for things like business, etc, it’ll be English all the way.

That said, Russian and Chinese and (maybe) Japanese will likely still be well worth knowing for purely practical reasons for the foreseeable future, IMO.

Well, a hurricane may take you away first. (It is not impossible if you think about climate change.)

Thank you for your advice

Business sounds a bit boring to me, so that is good to know

I dunno, changes in languages sound more scary

If I am not mistaken, the Google Translate program is based on statistical analysis of languages. It neither understands simple grammar nor nuanced expressions. It has simply accumulated an innumerable number of words and phrases.

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Yes! It sucks! I still have a chance. (Actually it is pretty impressive but it is more useful as a dictionary or phrasebook (like u said) and not actual translating).

It’s pointless worrying about the future. Nobody knows what’s going to happen tomorrow never mind by the time you reach an age when your working at a job. All that’s important is to follow the things that interest you. You see you might be looking at it the wrong way. What if you get a job working for Google being a specialist in languages. :slight_smile:

There will always be foreign exchange programs, volunteering in foreign countries, and internships/scholarships in foreign companies! Look for those in college and beyond, because those organizations exist for the purpose of getting people to explore and discover other cultures, something translation programs will never eradicate!

Lowkey posting this for self-motivation :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

Google Translate’s programmers are wise because human languages are not rule based.

I’m not scared at all. Learning languages the old fashioned way [with technology] by reading, listening, speaking, and writing is still very relevant. Google Translate and lots of the other speech to text translators are very flawed. I can’t even speak into my phone without it muddling up what I said, despite speaking very clearly. “Open Facebook.” Phone: “Okay, calling ex.”

Besides, despite what the stupid Facebook and social media garbage posts say, there’s no ear bud or magic translator app that will replace human emotion and detect intonation.

“What was going on here?” “He punched the bag.”

Without context and intonation, no computer translator will get that right. There’s lots of possibilities that can come from that, that can’t be conveyed through a computer. This factor is very important for interpreters for the U.N. as well as the translators that come from the Defense Language Institute.

The words in caps are stressed.
“HE punched the bag.” This particular person punched the bag, not the other person.

“He PUNCHED the bag.” He punched the bag, as opposed to giving it a kiss.

“He punched the BAG.” He punched the bag, as opposed to punching his boss.

“He punched THE bag.” The, implying the only bag in existence.

TL;DR technology doesn’t make speaking another language less impressive.

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Do not worry, because Google can not comfort also !. Your job will be about dealing with different people around the world, and they need someone comfort them to make a business with, they will need you not a machine.

It’s up to you mate, If you are good, nothing could bit you dude!

If I were you, I’ll not care about future because you can only change the “now” .

Steve has been learning languages since 2000 b.c (kidding) , If he had this kind of “fear” , I will not be here, LingQ won’t existed… and so forth.

I have a similar worry. However, at the moment Google translate doesn’t understand Russian and Yandex translate doesn’t understand English, so ok so far… although it’s a worry that some people don’t seem to know how bad these programs are, and keep using them, living with errors rather than doing better. I think also that the personal touch will remain valuable, which will help us. We translators may have to get smarter, though. For many years I worked as a tax consultant, and over time, some of what I offered became automated. My reaction had to be to back myself to think of more useful things, bespoke to my clients, that I could offer. So with translation. If we’re really good and have good personal skills, we can keep ahead of the machines. The jobs we do may become less routine, which would be interesting, but yes, maybe fewer in number, which would keep us on our toes.

Google translate (or some advanced future version thereof) as a viable alternative to human translation of novels, legal documents, etc?

I really don’t think so. Certainly not in the lifetime of anyone reading this. And probably never.

(And anyway, a strong leader could just slap a 35% tariff on each machine translated word…:-D)

I agree with t_harangi and others on this forum. Don’t think about whether in the near future you can earn a living from languages; learn languages because you want to.

In the near future many types of employment will disappear because of automation and artificial intelligence (I work in machine learning). Already we are seeing driverless vehicles which will take the place of haulage drivers, bus and train drivers, taxi drivers etc. In healthcare, the industry I work in, self learning computers are already assisting doctors by making diagnoses. In China they have started experimenting with “printing” homes and other buildings, thereby threatening traditional building skills such as bricklaying.

In a few years online translations will be much much better and the audio will sound more and more natural, just like a native speaker. As such translation and interpretation roles will become automated. That said there will still be a role for teachers as a computer or robot cannot replace personal contact and there will still be a demand for teaching language skills. For example, those training to be foreign diplomats will still require an understanding of the language of the country they are posted to.

So learn a language because you want to and because you are interested in the culture of the country whose language you are learning and maybe when thinking about future jobs involving languages, think about teaching or training as a career choice. Other than that, as the world becomes more interconnected think of another profession that will allow you to work internationally where language skills will be a big bonus, like being a civil engineer. I know two civil engineers and they spend their time touring the world as they move from one project to another, from one country to another.

Other options could be a speech-language pathologist or to stay in academia and become a linguist, phonetician etc…

Google translate has been getting better and better, year after year, ever since you were 5 years old. It will continue to get better and better - no doubt about it! In fact, Google employs professional translators to help make it better :slight_smile:

Google translate is far more than words, phrases and sentences. It can and does translate whole paragraphs perfectly. Obviously, this depends upon the languages being employed, but absolutely perfect translations in Google is already possible.

Don’t forget that Google uses AI to its advantage. Google is super-charging its translation software with AI with radically improved results.

Whilst people laughed at the translations they got years ago, and some still do, nowadays Google surprises with a spattering of absolutely perfect translations. Depending upon the language set, you can now get paragraph after paragraph of errorless, perfect translations. That was impossible even 4 years ago, believe you me!

And it’s a trend set to continue! Google is managing to close the gap at bewildering speed between professional translators and traditionally based translation software.