Machine translators such as Google Translate can be a great way to get a free translations whenever you are in need of an quick and easy language resource. In fact, with the rise of technology and the ease of access to the internet, you’ve probably used Google Translate or another machine translator at some point recently, even if just for a few words.
While you’re all familiar with what Google Translate does, some of you may not be as familiar with how Google Translate works.
Google Translate works using statistical machine translation (SMT), where computers analyze millions of existing translated documents from the web to learn vocabulary and look for patterns in a language. Google Translate then picks the most statistically probable translation when asked to translate a new bit of text.
However, Google Translate didn’t always work this way.
Initially, Google used a rule-based system where rules of grammar and syntax, along with vocabulary for each language, were manually coded into a computer. Google switched to SMT because it enables the service to improve itself as it combs the web adding to its database of text — as opposed to linguists having to identify and code new rules as a language evolves. Ideally this provides a more accurate translation, as well as saving thousands of programming/linguist man-hours. Bing Translator, SDL and TransPerfect still utilize a rule-based system, however.
Even though Google Translate aims to provide a more accurate machine translation, the results are not always perfect. While some language pairs provide a more accurate result than others, usually if the two languages are close to one another (for instance, English and Spanish), more often than not you are provided with a very basic translation.
Languages have many subtleties and nuances that, as of right now, machines are incapable of replicating perfectly.
Machine translators simply take the text that is entered and translate it word for word. Therefore, the translation that is delivered is not usually grammatically correct, oftentimes inaccurate, and in some cases not even coherent.*
While machine translators can still be useful when all you are looking for is a very basic translation, when dealing with your business or any other important matter, it is not a good idea to cut corners when it comes to language accuracy.
Research has shown that the majority of potential customers will not order from a website if it has poor grammar or spelling errors in the content.
Poorly translated or grammatically incorrect content gives the impression that the company is careless, unprofessional, or even worse, fraudulent.
For this reason, it is HIGHLY recommended that you use a more accurate translation service such as our professional translation option. This guarantees the translation you receive is 100% accurate, as it is translated by a highly skilled professional human translator, native to the target language. Even though this option costs money, it is relatively inexpensive. Especially when considering the potential outcome of using a machine translator.
If professional translation is still out of your price range, or if you don’t require the highest quality translation service but still want a more accurate translation, we offer a much more affordable solution with our hybrid translation option. Hybrid translation combines the speed of machine translation with a team of crowdsourced translators who will proofread the results and provide a more accurate post-edited translation. While this option is not as accurate as a professional translation, it is a fraction of the cost and significantly better than machine translation by itself.
*For an example of just how hilariously bad machine translators can be, try our Bad Translator application and have some fun!