Language Comes A Long Way, So do We

The need for communication has been around since antiquity, and although the origins of language in the human species have been the topic of much discussion for millennia, there has been no consensus on the origin or age of human language. That withstanding, no one can deny the evolution of language and the potency and effect a foreign polyglot has on a native listener. In the wise words of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela,

“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.”

As the world increasingly becomes a global village, it has become more important, not only for people to speak various languages to communicate effectively but for corporates who care about their bottom line to engage their vast audiences in a language that they can understand.

Over the past few decades, we have seen some advances in machine translation that help bridge the gap between languages, and, at ITC, we have welcomed these advances and continue being vocal about the value and hopeful future of these technologies. Although these technologies are progressing, they have some inherent flaws which could be the difference between telling someone “I’m in love with you, I think you’re nice” or “I’m in love with Younice, I think…” (Click here to read our article on machine translation). The drawbacks can range from simply ‘embarrassing’, if you are the girl involved in the exchange, to totally catastrophic if you are a small or large company relying on accurate and efficient messaging to garner respect in your market.

In recent times, one of the most popular online machine translation tools added further functionality to translations by introducing the ability to translate whole sentences. As enticing as this may sound, ITC continues to warn unsuspecting clients, who may be tempted to use this functionality for translating important content, that the result may be wrought with incomprehensible gibberish which could have serious consequences to their intended purpose. Recently, an online machine translation tool was caught with its pants down with a bouquet of inexplicable mistranslations, ranging from omitting 10 countries from a list of 30 in the translated text to duplicating translations and even turning a simple Vietnamese alphabet translation into a sentence oozing legalese.


Language services exist for a reason and the value add that can be derived from seasoned and experienced professionals is unparalleled. As may be expected from a fine bottle of Perrier-Jouet, the older the better. ITC has been around for almost 50 years. We retain our clients because we are committed to fundamental quality processes not offered by many, especially not online translation tools. Our translation process is unique, using a dual-native process involving native linguists who translate and proofread content to ensure top-notch quality. After translation, proofreading and editing, our QA team reviews the files to make sure everything is in order.

Language comes a long way, its beauty and nuances perfected over years. The seeds of its heritage passed on to generations, studied, and perfected by dedicated linguists. When in a different country, I often feel the urge to touch a stranger’s heart. In those moments, I’m often reminded of Mandela’s words, but just as often, language defies me.

By Matthew Mokoena | January 21, 2018 | Categories: ITC | No Comments

About the Author: Matthew Mokoena