How to spot Google Translate

WHAT IS GOOGLE TRANSLATE

Google translate can be described as a free, multilingual, statistics-based translation service offered by Google to help people translate speech, text, real time videos or images from one language into another language. Google translate provides a web interface as well as mobile interfaces for Android and iOS along with an API that can be used by developers to build applications, browser extensions and different software. Currently Google translate is used a lot; it serves about 200 million people every day and supports about 103 languages at different degrees of sophistication.

HOW GOOGLE TRANSLATE WORKS

If you ever need to translate words or phrases from one language into another language, then Google translate can be a very helpful tool. However, it is worth pointing out that Google translate cannot be compared to a true bilingual dictionary such as those used by professional translators. Google translate works differently; it takes the words, phrases or sentences that you type into the input field and compares it with the combined results of all previous translation requests in the chosen language using Google’s proprietary machine translation engine. Almost immediately, Google translate provides you with the search result in the box to the right of the input field.

Despite its incredible convenience, Google Translate is not without its share of problems. Like other online translation tools, it works using a machine translation engine. This means that when an exact match cannot be found in its database of previous translations, it uses probability to choose an answer, which inevitably leads to imperfect results. No matter how large a translation database may be, it is likely to be incorrect at least some of the time unless the results are reviewed by a human linguist at the final stage.

EASILY SPOTTING A GOOGLE TRANSLATION

Though Google translate is commonly considered a miracle solution among nonprofessionals and high school students with sporadic translation needs, closer inspection will prove otherwise. For quickly determining the gist of a foreign piece of text, Google Translate is indeed an amazing resource, but its infallibility ends there. Any native speaker of the target language (and even a fair share of amateurs) will immediately recognize its imperfections. Problems often fall under one of the following categories.

Perhaps the most salient of Google’s mistakes is one of word order. Google translations rarely preserve the natural syntax of the target language; instead, they often emulate that of the source text’s language, scrambling the text’s meaning along with it.

Another common complaint has to do with tone. In deciding how to translate a given word, Google Translate will often err on the side of excessive formality, giving the text a stilted feel, or will choose an overly technical term belonging to the wrong semantic field, causing an abruptness in sentence flow for the reader.

Other problems are length-related; Google will only translate a limited number of paragraphs, and will generally work best the shorter the sentences happen to be. To add to this unevenness in quality, certain language specifications simply work better than others do; European languages and translations into English will yeild more accurate results across the board. Even in the European languages it supposedly does best however, Google Translate will often confuse tenses, most notably switching the perfect and the imperfect.