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Is Google Translator Accurate?

Is Google Translator Accurate?

Don’t you love translators? I do!  I love playing online games with people from around the world and being able to converse with them in their own language. I love to play games in their own right, but it’s even more fun when I can ask someone in South America about the time, the season or the weather. I personally use Google Translate.  It’s quick enough to (Alt+Tab), type my question, copy and paste before my next turn.

However, this brings to mind the question, “Is Google Translate accurate?” For my intentions, it doesn’t really matter if it’s entirely accurate.  I only ask simple questions and if it’s not exactly right, the person on the other end generally won’t mind. Online game players are a friendly lot and most of them just appreciate the effort to communicate.

It’s a little different for someone using it to try to pass a language class (my next question is going to be, “Is that really honest?”), or someone needing it for their job.  It would take someone who knows both languages well to give us the real lowdown. Of course, they never use Google Translate so how could they judge? So I believe the best way for us to determine how well it works is to try it. I’ll ask Google Translate to turn a relatively simple English sentence into some other languages and then translate it back into English and see what we get.

My question: How is the weather where you are?

To French and Back to English it becomes:

Quel temps fait-il chez vous?

How is the weather where you are?

To German and Back to English becomes:

Wie ist das Wetter, wo Sie sind?

How is the weather where you are?

To Japanese and Back to English becomes:

あなたが天気はどうですか?

How is your weather?

Well, now, that’s not bad at all! (I thought I would get it with the Japanese.)  It looks like it serves me well for my purpose. Let’s try something a little more difficult and see how it holds up. I’ll try this quote from Paul Tillich.

Language… has created the word “loneliness” to express the pain of being alone. And it has created the word “solitude” to express the glory of being alone.

To French and Back to English it becomes:

Langue … a créé le mot «solitude» pour exprimer la douleur d’être seul. Et il a créé le mot «solitude» pour exprimer la gloire d’être seul.

Language … created the word “solitude” to express the pain of being alone. And it has created the word “solitude” to express the glory of being alone.

To German and Back to English becomes:

Sprache … geschaffen hat, das Wort “Einsamkeit”, um den Schmerz des Alleinseins auszudrücken. Und es hat das Wort “Einsamkeit”, die Herrlichkeit allein Ausdruck erstellt.

Language … has created the word “loneliness” to express the pain of being alone. And it has the word “loneliness”, the glory of expression alone created.

To Japanese and Back to English it becomes:

言語…独りであることの痛みを表現する言葉”孤独”を作成しました。そして、それは一人でいるの栄光を表現する言葉”孤独”を作成しました。

I’ve created a “lonely” words to express the pain of being alone … language. And it has created the “loneliness” words to express the glory of being alone.

There you have it.  In the case of more difficult sentences containing nuance, it loses somewhat in the translation.  This is because Google Translate is a statistical machine-translation system. This as opposed to a rule-based approach that requires a lot more work for the difficult task of defining vocabularies and grammar. It’s simply not as sophisticated as a trained, human translator who knows the grammar and vocabulary and the subtle distinctions.

So I’m of the opinion that Google Translate is a fine translator when trying to put across a simple idea in a low-pressure situation. However, I would advise you to look further for a translator to use in a graded situation or one where precision is essential. I’m glad that this little experiment leads me to believe that Google Translate is accurate enough for me and isn’t going to spoil any of my fun!

 

14 thoughts on “Is Google Translator Accurate?

  1. how i can join as a freelance translator in this bureau? i live in Indonesia. i usually use long distance translation via email (files are sent with attachment in email) and paid via banking transfer. more than 5 years i works as a freelance translator to present in indonesia (english to indonesian and vice versa, i seldom translate german to indonesian or vice versa). on the 11th March,i graduated as a german language scholar (undergraduate study programs) at state university of malang,Indonesia. i join as a freelance translator in translation bureau in Jakarta and Ciputat (both of them are in Indonesia). i would like to be tested if this bureau wanna test me first before join. my skill is german and english. i hope this bureau gives me chance.

     
  2. how i can join as a freelance translator in this bureau? i live in Indonesia. i usually use long distance translation via email (files are sent with attachment in email) and paid via banking transfer. more than 5 years i works as a freelance translator to present in indonesia (english to indonesian and vice versa, i seldom translate german to indonesian or vice versa). on the 11th March,i graduated as a german language scholar (undergraduate study programs) at state university of malang,Indonesia. i join as a freelance translator in translation bureau in Jakarta and Ciputat (both of them are in Indonesia). i would like to be tested if this bureau wanna test me first before join. my skill is german and english. i hope this bureau gives me chance.

     
  3. Google translate only gives an inaccurate results, which functions like machine translations and requires human post-editing, especially in accademic areas.

     
  4. Google translate only gives an inaccurate results, which functions like machine translations and requires human post-editing, especially in accademic areas.

     

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