A simple search for translation services will reveal that there are a number of websites offering free translation tools. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great! And their creators have done a brilliant job to make people’s lives easier. But when is it “safe” to use these tools and when it is better to go for a human translator?
Well, first of all, it depends on what you need the translation for. If, for instance, you want to get the general gist of a text for personal purposes (understand a newspaper article), such a tool can prove to be of great help. Yes, it will miss idioms, phrasal verbs and such, but you’ll get the idea.
Have a look at my little experiment I used Google translate and an excerpt from a Daily mail article and “asked” the machine to translate the text into French, then back to English again. You can see below what the original text was and you can compare it to what the end translation was:
|Original text||Final translation|
|This chap looks as if he’s been squirrelling away too many nuts for the winter. And the tubby squirrel appears to be posing a serious danger to the branch of this pine tree.However, he is still fit enough to scurry around the back garden of a tour guide in Michigan whose feeding stations are clearly stocked generously.||This chapter is presented as if it was too squirrelling nuts for the winter. And tubby squirrel seems to be a serious threat to the pine branch.However, it is still fit enough for the crowd around the back garden of a guide in Michigan, whose positions of power are clearly stored generously.|
So, have you ever used them? If yes, have they been helpful?