Google is proud to announce it regularly translates in excess of 100 billion words a day – it’s an efficient (if not always entirely accurate) service and sees itself as being a provider of translation services.
But is that a claim it can realistically make?
Google changing the face of ‘translation’?
Google Translate has been around for a number of years now and was developed on the back of the fact it had access to hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of business and government documents – it then could cross-referenced these documents and came up with the automated, online translation tool we’re familiar with today.
It has subsequently updated this service to give it a more conversational tone and an ability to pick up slang and colloquial vernacular, and its latest tweak is to start up a Translate Community which has enlisted the services of thousands of foreign language-speaking volunteers to improve the quality of the service.
Contributors can rate present translations and generate new ones and so the new service is now well-equipped to interpret and translate conversation text instantaneously across seven languages and non-English speakers can input queries in their native language and retrieve documents in their second languages.
And then there’s Google’s Word Lens which automatically identifies which language is being used by both users of the conversation and also allows users to take a picture of text and get it translated in 36 languages.
And it can do this without any data connection, meaning users can simply position their camera towards a sign or text and watch the translated text overlaid the screen.
Not to be left behind, Microsoft has recently introduced a translation tool for Skype that instantly translates an individual’s video and voice conversation into another language while simultaneously displaying the transcript of the conversation on the screen.
Impressive, but enough to be called a translation service?
What can a translation service offer?
One thing Google’s tech can’t yet offer is a proper interpreting service – so if you need some good, old-fashioned, face-to-face interpreting done you’ll have to employ the services of an interpreting service.
And, although it’s getting better, Google still can’t be trusted to deal with the vagaries and nuances of regional variations and so there is still the risk that meaning could get lost in translation – when you use a translation service, the translator will have a greater grasp of both context and colloquialisms.
What Google does offer is a great service for those in need of a quick fix – so if you’re visiting an unfamiliar territory, or you’re looking to translate a Tweet to broaden your content marketing operation, it’s ideal.
If you need a more reliable, bespoke and in-depth service though, you’re still better off with a translation service provider you know you can trust.
And if you’re still not convinced, here’s why you should never put all your faith in Google Translate…