Evidence Points to the Superiority of a Professional Translator
What is the fastest, cheapest way for your startup to enter an international market? Google Translate is free and instantaneous, but it doesn’t come close to the quality of a professional translator. So, which option is better? Let’s look at the pros and cons of each translation method.
How Does Google Translate Work?
Google Translate is quite the appealing option for startups that want multiple or quick translations. With more than 200 million daily users, it has built up its reputation as the best free online translation tool since it was first launched over a decade ago.
At various levels, this service supports more than one hundred languages. Its pros are many:
- Speed: You get your results back immediately with this tool. It will translate as you type your content in, and the results are available faster than you can say übersetzen.
- Convenience: With your smartphone, you can access it just about anywhere thanks to advances in mobile technology.
- Cost: The fact that it is free is a major draw for enterprises with no budget. You pay nothing, and it is almost always superior to other free translation services.
There are also several ways in which this tool falls short:
- No quality assurance: If you find a mistake in the translation, there is no way to report it. You might hire a professional translator to check the work, but you would then lose the benefits of the tool.
- Inconsistent quality: You may be able to get usable English to Spanish translations, but when you venture into English to Thai, the accuracy drops considerably. The less popular the language pairing, the less accurate the translation.
- Count on mistakes: Structural, contextual, and grammatical mistakes are par for the course with Google Translate.
What Sets the Work of a Professional Translator apart?
The many negatives of Google Translate are often overcome when you hand your content over to a professional translator. Some of the advantages of choosing a professional team include:
- Quality assurance: A language service provider (LSP) will have procedures in place to make sure your source content is translated accurately and free of mistakes.
- Localization: This is the process by which a professional translator accurately translates your message to reflect your context, intent, tone, and style. Localization is not just about translation. It also makes your text more accessible to your target culture.
- Content interpretation: Machines are not able to interpret slogans, context, language nuances, and metaphors like a professional translator can. Therefore, your meanings are not lost in translation.
But, using a professional translator is not all rainbows and unicorns. There are a few negatives:
- Slower: It might not be possible for a translation agency to meet your deadline if you are looking for a rather unrealistic quick turnaround. Quality takes time. With this option, you must plan ahead.
- Potential language limitations: You may have to hire several translators for your project if you have rare language pairs. Of course, if you choose an LSP that has translators worldwide with different skill sets, you can overcome this pitfall.
- Cost: Cost is a big drawback if you are working with little or no budget, but it does not have to cost a fortune to hire a translation company.
Which Is Better: A Professional Translator or Google Translate?
Thanks to a study by the International Interpretation and Translation Association of Korea and Sejong Cyber University earlier this year, we have an answer to this question.
Google Translate (and other machine programs) and human translators were given the same four texts to translate. Three professional translators scored the translations based on language expression, organization and logic, and accuracy.
The humans won the showdown. Of course, the human translators took almost an hour versus the machines completing the task in a few minutes.
Google Translate did the best out of all of the programs scoring 28 out of 60 points. On the other hand, it wasn’t even close when compared to the humans, who scored 49 out of the possible 60 points.
What Are Some Major Google Translate Mistakes That Could Have Been Avoided with A Professional Translator?
For comic relief and to really drive home how inept this service can be compared to a professional translator, here are a few examples of when the tool was less than stellar:
In 2011, JackCola.org reported that “Britney’s mom is very nice” would translate to Spanish as “The breast of Britney is very pleasant.”
The Guardian covered a 2015 story where a small Spanish town was attempting to advertise a culinary festival celebrating a leafy green vegetable in different dialects. Google Translate turned the event into a “clitoris festival.”
All Out had to launch an online petition to get Google Translate to stop using offensive slurs as synonyms for the word “gay.”
As you can see, the practical, empirical, and anecdotal evidence all point to the superiority of a professional translator when you want your startup to have a serious chance at entering a new international market and resonating with a global audience.