Translating of Scanned Documents

Why scanned documents cannot be translated by machines?

(Last Updated On: July 10, 2019)

Scanned documents are a quick way for sharing information these days. People in the professional world do not have the patience to type a document in text format and send it to their clients. They prefer scanning the documents and mailing them as it is easy and quick. However, translating scanned documents can prove to be a challenge for both professional translators as well as machine translation apps.

Why scanned documents can’t be used by machine translation?

Professional translations relies on formats such as word as these are very easy in processing. The translation work could be very slow when the documents have been scanned. Translators do not love struggling with difficult files. This is the reason why most of them charge high rates for translation of such files. They do not do this just to make more money, the task is actually quite complicated for the as the documents needs to be converted into an editable format before translation.

Machine translation involves the use of specialized computer applications which can translate messages. However, the tools prove to be useless when the computer cannot read the text from a scanned document. This is the reason why machine translators cannot process the PDF files just yet. What seems to be text for us may not mean text when viewed from a technical perspective. For instance, scanned documents are just images whether they have words or not. It is impossible for any machine to understand the content without the aid of optical character recognition software.

Different kinds of tools are available for editing or converting the format of such documents. Such software tends to be expensive and is are not entirely accurate. Translator tools face technical difficulties when they are subjected to scanned or converted scanned documents. Not all scanned documents can be modified. Hence, this involves carrying out additional tasks. The outcomes of conversions may not match the original one. Often, there is a mismatch in alignment and layout. It is hard to preserve the original alignment during translating scanned documents. Loss of information during conversion adds to the challenge while translating a scan with the aid of machine translators.

In several cases, scanned docs are protected with passwords especially if they are being used for business. This as well implies that tools and machines cannot read the content without the document being unlocked. This is when the only option left is to carry out manual translation right from the start. The process involves several steps includes such as reading, editing, rewriting, translating and proofreading. These steps consume a lot of time and also add up to the costs.

Machine translations can be cheap and fast. However, the visual information or layout may be lost during the process. This is why dealing with translations of content in any file format apart from word can be challenging for any translator. This adds up to the costs and makes everything much more complicated. Machine translators can never process any scanned documents and this leaves you with no option but to contact any live translation services or a traditional translation service.