When you need to translate some work from one language to another and don’t possess the knowledge to do it yourself, using Google Translate can seem like a quick and easy solution.
And in general cases, Google Translate will be able to turn out a relatively decent translation of single words or short phrases - like ones that you’d need as a foreigner ordering food in a restaurant in another country. However, it’s not a perfect system and shouldn’t be used for business translations - such as translating a website.
If you’re not entirely convinced that you should never use Google translate for your business, we’ll, explain it all below.
What is the problem with Google Translate?
Google Translate is a great free tool for a quick translation of basic words or phrases. However, it’s far from perfect, and these five explanations will clearly show you the problems of using Google Translate.
Google Translate doesn’t understand culture
Cultures differ wildly in different regions of the world, and the same can be said of dialects. For example, Portuguese as a language may be spoken as far as Portugal, Brazil and Mozambique.
However, there are finer details within a culture, such as slang, metaphors and idioms, which a translation machine like Google is unable to understand. Thus, it’s unable to accurately reproduce translations that include these nuances.
Google Translate cannot replicate tone and style
As with cultural nuances, Google Translate, as well as other translation machines, are unable to pick up on the tone and style of a text. Think of the significant difference between a funny blog, an authoritative academic essay or a sombre poem.
This cannot be detected by Google translate, so ultimately, this tool churns out a direct translation that completely fails to incorporate the tone and style. So, any reader looking at the translated text is unlikely to get a feel for the deeper meaning or significance of the text.
Google Translate doesn’t always understand the context in which words are being used
The problem with Google Translate is that it usually uses direct translation to change a text from one language to another. This means that it fails to account for the complexity of the language, as well as the nuances that are inherent within any language. So often, when you use Google Translate, what you end up with is a mass of words that don’t make much sense at all.
In comparison, human translators are able to understand the context and also go above and beyond - with glossaries, proofreaders and the like - to ensure that they do not make these same errors.
A Google Translation often contains numerous grammatical errors
The Google Translate software makes use of AI and machine learning to translate the text. However, the system also makes use of a language pair frequency method when translating, and this does not take grammar into account.
The quality of the translated text often depends on the language pairing
The Google Translation system was first built up from three sources - the Bible, mystery novels, and United Nations and European Union documentation. Additionally, the system also uses documents available on the internet and previous translations that best match your text in order to translate it.
Thus, more commonly translated languages such as English and Spanish will render better results than, say, Odia, which is spoken in India. Therefore, if you want to translate a text from or into a lesser-known language, you’re unlikely to end up with an accurate translation if you use Google Translate.
What are the limitations of Google Translate?
Translators themselves have tested out the capabilities of Google Translate, taking simple phrases in French which have different genders and translating to English. These experiments found that Google Translate as a translation machine fails to understand the meaning of the words. It simply ‘decodes’ it in a way to translate directly. Thus, Google Translate is limited in understanding the nuances of language.
Do professionals use Google Translate?
Perhaps there are some professionals out there who trust Google Translate to do a good job. However, this is highly unrecommended for several reasons.
When it comes to needing translations for business reasons, such as legal documents or marketing copy, you should only rely on professional translation services. One of the main reasons for this is that these services will be able to do transcreation. This is necessary as translation alone is not enough - you need to be able to rewrite content or texts in a way that is understandable to a local audience and in line with their culture.
Ready to use professional translation services you can trust?
While translation software like Google Translate is a quick and easy way to translate a text, many risks come with using these systems - especially within a business context.
At Jublo, we have a team of expert translators who can aid in business, legal, travel and website translations across a range of languages such as French, Spanish, Japanese and Korean. So don’t hesitate to get in touch with us and see how we can help you with our translation services.