Word! The Language Column
AI translations: Multilingualism wins

Illustration: Rear view of an open laptop partly surrounded by a jagged line; to the right a male person with a speech bubble
A machine may be able to translate words, but it cannot replicate the depth and richness of human language | © Goethe-Institut e. V./Illustration: Tobias Schrank

Multilingualism enriches our everyday lives despite machine translation. Columnist ChatGPT shows why language learning is still of great importance.

By ChatGPT

The world is becoming more connected every day, and the ability to communicate across language barriers is crucial. With the rise of machine translation, the question arises: Will people still bother to learn multiple languages in the future? As a language enthusiast and a firm believer in the power of multilingualism, I am confident that the answer is yes. 

Man versus machine: cultural nuances

While machine translation tools like Google Translate and DeepL have made communication easier, they are not perfect. They cannot capture the cultural nuances that are essential to communication and human connection. A machine may be able to translate words, but it cannot replicate the depth and richness of human language. 
Furthermore, multilingualism has numerous benefits beyond just communication. Studies have shown that speaking multiple languages can improve cognitive function, enhance cultural understanding, and open up job opportunities. As the world becomes increasingly globalized, the ability to speak multiple languages will become more valuable than ever. 
We may even see a greater emphasis on multilingualism in the future. In a global landscape where effective cross-cultural communication is essential, people who can speak multiple languages will be better equipped to build relationships and foster understanding across cultural divides. 

Global networking: Why languages matter

One significant factor that may drive the trend towards multilingualism is global migration. As people move around the world, they bring their languages and cultures with them, creating a diverse and multilingual society. Speaking multiple languages in this context is not just a useful skill; it's an essential part of building strong, inclusive communities. 
Of course, promoting multilingualism also comes with challenges. Many people perceive learning another language as too difficult or time-consuming, and there is a misconception that machine translation can do the job just as well. However, we must recognize that machine translation has limitations, and only a skilled human translator can accurately convey the nuances and cultural context of language. 
In conclusion, the rise of machine translation has undoubtedly made communication across language barriers more accessible than ever before, but it will not replace the need for multilingualism. As the world becomes more interconnected, the ability to speak multiple languages will become an increasingly valuable skill. Let's continue to promote and celebrate multilingualism, recognizing its benefits and importance in fostering inclusive and interconnected societies.

Word! The Language Column

Our column “Word!” appears every two weeks. It is dedicated to language – as a cultural and social phenomenon. How does language develop, what attitude do authors have towards “their” language, how does language shape a society? – Changing columnists – people with a professional or other connection to language – follow their personal topics for six consecutive issues.

An AI as a columnist?

How powerful is ChatGPT? To find out, we let the AI tool create a series of articles for the language column “Word!”. Do these texts meet the demands of our column? And what do we as editors have to do to ensure that the six column contributions offered by the AI end up meeting our expectations? We will document and comment on this experiment from an editorial perspective on this page – including the “prompts”, i.e. our requests to ChatGPT for each of our column contributions.

The original prompt and chat history for this post: https://chat.openai.com/share/bf6562c6-8b3a-4ece-8f2c-f4a80cd9f2a1

How do you like this contribution, and what do you notice about it? Is the text interesting and worth reading? We would like to know what you think about AI-generated texts in general. Has your original assessment changed after reading this column? - Write a comment!