If you’re a professional translator or work in the translation industry, we bet you’re tired of hearing this question over and over again. If you don’t travel abroad, don’t live or work in a big city, or don’t do international business, maybe all you need to translate is a word or two here and there, probably just out of curiosity. But if you’ve ever tried to use Google Translate to try communicate with someone in another language, you probably realized pretty quickly that Google Translate just isn’t worth it.
Google Translate is a service that provides machine translation. As you might expect from the name, the translation is done entirely by computer, with no human intervention. It could easily tell you what the Spanish word for orange is but won’t work for putting together a meaningful text.
Languages weren’t thought out, planned, and designed; they evolved naturally over thousands of years. This means there’s no way to simply “crack” them like a code. Computers are not yet at the level where they can contextualize words in sentences in the right way. Therefore, if you asked the computer to translate “I am eating an orange,” it would have to estimate whether you meant orange the fruit or orange the color. The meaning lies in context, and in this case, technology is still quite far from the truth!
To put into perspective the current power of computers to parse human language, there is a concept in computer science called the Turing Test. It is a sort of game that gauges the accuracy of a computer to emulate a human by convincing actual humans that the computer’s responses are not generated by computer. To date, the best results have only had a 33% success rate—and this is only for communication within a single language!
There’s this simple test you can do from your computer or phone right now: go to Google Translate and type in any simple sentence you want and translate it into another language. Now copy the translation and paste it back over the original text, then it back into English. Did you get your original text back exactly the way you wrote it?
If you value your text enough to spend the time writing with proper spelling, grammar, capitalization, validate the information, and have proofread, then the only way to ensure that your thoughts are conveyed equally accurately in another language is to have it translated by a professional translator. (link)
Don’t forget to call us if you need professional translation!