Don’t Speak: Why using online translation freeware is a bad idea

Posted on Dec 15 2014 - 3:16pm by Editor

Have you ever wondered about how online translators actually work, and why you shouldn’t use them? There are two main ways that computers translate one human language to another: one based on rules, and one based on something a little more complicated. The first and older one is based on rules. A computer is programmed with the basic rules of a language and is given a dictionary. Then, when somebody puts in some text, the computer translates the text according to those rules and gives you a rough translation.

English to Spanish translation

However, that’s proven to be a really crappy way to translate things because pretty much every single language in the world has tons of exceptions to its rules and most of the time, a translation will just end up with something that’s complex and confusing. There’s a lot of nuance in language that’s hard for a machine to catch. Machines have problems with metaphors, and there are things like slang and different dialects that even a native speaker might have a hard time with. So while machine translations are available as freeware online, there’s still a long way to go before humans are rendered obsolete.

Who wouldn’t want a free translation from any language to another, delivered within a short time? Seems like many of us do, or otherwise the online world wouldn’t be filled with various translation tools, each being described as the best solution for all translation problems and needs. However, for a professional translator, tools like Google Translate and Bing are a source of endless debates with differing opinions. Indeed, why should you pay for a professional translator if you can get the job done for free? Well, there is nothing wrong with this train of thought as such, as long as you are ready to sacrifice quality.

Google Translate and other freeware translate tools may not produce the best translation, and may output a translation that is unnatural or simply wrong.At this point, computer scientists are trying hard to make statistical translation better and better by adding more and more information to pull from. But this method has its limits.It’s hard to think of a way that translation tools can stay ahead of the curve, so it looks like for the foreseeable future, human translation will reign supreme.

Google Translate is a godsend for those who wish to shop on foreign websites, browse news stories in their language of origin, or get some cheeky help with French homework. However, as with everything on the internet you can’t always trust Google Translate to be entirely accurate. Google translator is useful if you want to get the gist of some foreign language text you cannot read yourself. But you need to be careful, there will still be muddles even with that.

With certain languages Google Translate is appallingly bad. Ever tried to translate from Arabic into English? You’ll be hard pressed to ever understand what the English translation says let alone the Arabic original. The case is the same for quite a few other languages, either it’s widely used languages like English to Spanish translation, or more “exotic” ones that are only spoken in faraway countries. The translations can’t necessarily be trusted as being perfect, and often with languages where dialect or formal speech is an issue, Google Translate and other online translation tools usually tend to get it wrong. These freeware translate services still do come in pretty handy when translating emails, forum messages or even entire websites.

Google Translate and other translation tools are not bad as far as machine translations go. But, they can’t be trusted with complex sentences, idioms, or figurative speech. They are only useful to get a rough ungrammatical meaning of a text, as a first step in a complete human translation.