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Can I Trust Google Translate?

September 18, 2020by Emily Thomson

So you have a document that needs translating but you cannot decide if it is best to risk it and use Google Translate or use an accredited translation service. This post answers the question ‘Can I trust Google Translate?’.  

What is Google Translate?

It is hard to trust something if you do not know or understand what it is.

Google Translate is the global number 1 online translation service founded by Google in 2006, which quickly translates text from one language to another.  It is used worldwide, has 100 million daily users, and translates over 100 billion words every day (to put that into context, if you were to live for 100 billion minutes then you would live for 190,259 years!).

It has become the go-to resource for quick online un-certified and literal translations and is available on mobile and desktop.

How Does Google Translate Work?

Both on desktop and mobile, the user first enters their text in one language.

https://www.absolute-interpreting.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/google-translate-before.png

Next the user then selects the target language, and finally Google Translate translates it.

Screen capture of google translate after text is added

Originally Google Translate used Statistical Machine Translation to translate the text first into English and then into the target language.  It translated every word individually and only applied the most basic grammar.

A close up of a green technical circuit board

The text was cross-referenced with millions of documents from official United Nations and European Parliament transcripts. This method produced broken languages and inaccurate results. In 2016 Google began using Neural Machine Translating System (GNMT) which could translate whole sentences by cross-referencing them with a bigger range of linguistic documents, resulting in slightly improved translation but still not a reliable or fully accurate translation .

Each time a translation is made Google analyses any recurring patterns to improve their service, but even with this new technology there are still many inaccuracies within the translations.

Is Google Translate Reliable and Can I Trust It?

If you are looking to translate single words or a very simple phrase into popular languages then it is a useful tool. However due to the way it works it is not suitable to be used for translating legal or sensitive information. Also if you need to translate large texts then it is not a reliable platform.

  • It is completely free to use
  • Instant, fast translations (not necessarily accurate)
  • Can translate words, phrases, and texts
  • 109 languages
  • Can be used in any app
  • Tap to translate
  • Voice, written, text and image translation
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Compatible with Android and iOS
  • Simple to use
  • It cannot be relied upon
  • Not accurate translations
  • No minority languages
  • Not certified
  • No understanding of industry specific terminology
  • Googles saves the translated data
  • No confidentiality
  • Cannot translate legal documents
  • Users must download a whole language to use it offline
  • Cannot understand or convey emotion

Google Translate In a Nut Shell

Group of happy business people in a meeting

In conclusion Google Translate is not a reliable tool to use for all your translating needs but it can be trusted for daily translations of words and small phrases. However advanced technology gets it will never match the complexity of the human brain and the intricacy of different languages.

“No reasonable person thinks that a machine translation can ever achieve elegance and style.” – Warren Weaver, mathematician

For accurate, faultless translating use a translator who is preferably a native speaker of the language that you need. Absolute Interpreting and Translating Ltd offers many translation services.

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Emily Thomson

Created by www.uksoftwarecompany.co.uk

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