Google Translate is one of the most popular translation tools used by companies and individuals alike, as it provides instant translations in multiple languages for both text and speech. On paper, Google Translate sounds like the perfect solution to language barriers but, in practice, the results can vary. The question we want to ask in this article is: how much better is professional translation than Google translation?
The pros & cons of Google Translate
Google Translate is an excellent tool for when you are on the go. For example, when you are trying to order food in a restaurant or want to quickly translate a newspaper headline.
The pros of Google Translate
- It’s free: The biggest benefit of using Google Translate is that it’s completely free and available to everyone.
- It’s easy: All you have to do is quickly select your languages and type in text or activate voice detection and Google Translate takes care of everything.
- It’s instant: Like most automatic translation tools, it allows you to convert text and speech into another languages instantly.
- It’s everywhere: With the mobile app, online tools and integration into Google Search, Google Translate is accessible everywhere.
- Image translate: Google’s innovative image translate feature is great for translating menus, signs and other text you cannot easily type.
The cons of Google Translate
- Accuracy: The main issue with Google Translate is its accuracy, and this is true for any machine translation technology.
- Context: You cannot provide a tool like Google Translate with any contextual information to improve the output quality.
- Contextual understanding: Reliance on machine learning and other AI technology limits Google Translate’s ability to understand the contextual meaning of content.
- Subject knowledge: While Google’s Search algorithm has access to a worldwide online pool of information (of varying accuracy and reliability), this does not benefit the output of Google Translate in any way.
- No quality control: Google Translate gives you the output and that’s it. There is no quality assurance, control or reviews.
- Security: Google Translate offers no meaningful security and everything you type in is used by its algorithms to continue training its machine learning models.
Google Translate should not be used as a standalone translation solution for official purposes. Professional human translators use a variety of translation tools, including machine translation (similar to Google Translate), but language pros use more robust alternatives (i.e. technology, more advanced settings) and incorporate these tools into a professional translation process with a comprehensive review system to guarantee quality.
The pros & cons of professional translation
Professional translation is all about delivering results that are worth paying for, which is crucial for commercial purposes.
The pros of professional translation
- Talent acquisition: When working with professional translation agencies, they’ll be able to find all of the language experts you need for any project requirements.
- Quality assurance: Certified professional translators can guarantee a level of quality in all of their work.
- Contextual understanding: You can hire translators with specialist knowledge of your field and provide them contextual information to help them provide the best translations.
- Flexibility: This is also particularly true when working with a translation agency that is able to meet your needs as they change.
- Tailored service: Agencies and professional translators can adapt their processes to meet your needs.
- Delivery: Professional translators deliver all translated content into the documents and file formats for you – no need to copy and paste, something which significantly minimises the risk of mistakes.
- Additional translation services when required: Most translation projects require additional services, which could range from localisation and transcreation to subtitling, multilingual SEO and a variety of other potential services.
- Consultation: Agencies and translators can provide advice at every stage of your project and help you make informed decisions, e.g. how to get the best results from your budget.
- Project management: Translation agencies can manage every stage of a given project so you can focus on your business while knowing your translated content is always available when needed.
- Security: Agencies and professional translators are responsible for ensuring your data and any sensitive information are protected at all times.
The cons of professional translation
- More expensive: Professional translation services are obviously more expensive than a free online tool.
- More time-consuming: Quality translation takes time and resources to produce.
- Talent acquisition*: When companies are not working with a professional translation agency, finding the right translation and language pros can be challenging (although Google Translate is not going to help with this, either).
When translating content for commercial purposes or publication, you should always invest in professional translation services. A tool like Google Translate will not be reliable enough to use in scenarios where 100% accuracy is important and even the best algorithms fall far short of the output that professional translators are capable of delivering.
Invest in professional translation
If you are ready to invest in professional translation services, you can call us on +44 (0)20 7324 0950 or fill out the form on our contact page to discuss your translation needs further.