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How Online Translators Work and Why You Should Not be Using Them

Online translators can be your best friend and your worst enemy at the same time. They can be great for a quick translation, but for important matters they are no good. We have all been guilty of using them from time to time. Perhaps you just wanted to translate some words you found online but did not understand. Or maybe you used an online translator to do some of your Spanish homework. But, the bottom line is that even though they are easy to use and very convenient, things can go horribly wrong when using them. Many people do not know why this is, but that is mainly because they have no clue how online translators actually work. Read on to find out how they do so you can get a better understanding of why you really should not be using them.

There are two basic ways that online translator’s one language to another. One is based upon rules while the other is a bit more complicated. As for the rules, the computer is programmed with the main rules of language and contains a dictionary. So, when you put in the text, your computer does the translation according to the rules of the dictionary and provides you with a translation-a rough one! Since all languages have a whole lot of exceptions to the rules, much of the time the final translation will end up being nonsensical and completely garbled.

Since the above way did not always work well (which is an understatement), many online translators put together large databases of actual human translations. What this means is that programs use translations from places such as the European Union and the United Nations to use for translations. This is called statistical machine translations. One of the online translators that use this method is Google Translate. Though it does bring on more natural translations, it is still not a good way to get fully thought out communications across.

Even though the methods have seen some improvement, they are still full of problems. Machines cannot catch the various nuances of a language which makes it difficult for them to catch slang, dialect and metaphors. For these reasons, and all of those listed above, there is no danger of human translators going out of business. Online translators have a really long way to go, so use them sparingly and for important translations, go to the source – a human with linguistic knowledge.


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