Wondering how accurate Google Translate is? You’re not alone. This handy tool boasts accurate translation in more than 130 languages, but how does it really stack up against human translation accuracy?
In 2021, a study by UCLA Medical Center revealed some surprising results. Google Translate preserved the overall meaning for 82.5% of translations. However, accuracy between languages varied, ranging from 55% to 94%. Sometimes, Google Translate’s precision is shockingly good.
But can you trust it for all our translation needs?
Read on to find out more about the strengths and limitations of this popular tool and whether it’s the right choice for you.
How Google Translate Works
Before any discussion about Google Translate’s accuracy, it’s essential to understand how it works. Since its inception, Google Translate has come a long way, particularly after late 2016 when significant improvements were made.
In the past, Google Translate relied on a straightforward translation model, known as statistical machine translation (SMT). This model caused the translation quality to suffer. The SMT process involved breaking down the text into words or phrases, searching for human-translated documents in the target language pair, and selecting the most frequently used version of each word or phrase. This approach often led to unnatural and inaccurate translations, as it used English as an intermediary for each translation.
However, in late 2016, Google Translate adopted a new machine learning system called Google Neural Machine Translation (GNMT). This innovative approach focuses on translating the meaning of entire sentences at a time, rather than word-by-word or phrase-by-phrase. By considering the sentence’s overall meaning, Google Translate performs significantly better, generating more accurate and natural-sounding translations.
Google claims that the GNMT system has reduced translation errors by 55%-85% for several major language pairs. This improvement can be attributed to the use of artificial intelligence, which allows the system to understand and process languages more effectively.
The translation quality for European languages has seen a substantial boost, thanks to the GNMT system. However, the accuracy for other languages still varies. Google Translate’s accuracy has improved overall, but there are limitations to its capabilities, especially when dealing with complex sentences and idiomatic expressions.
To sum up, Google Translate has made significant strides in enhancing translation quality through the use of advanced machine learning techniques, such as GNMT. While it performs well for many European languages, the accuracy for other languages remains a work in progress. As artificial intelligence continues to evolve, we can expect further improvements in Google Translate’s capabilities, making it an even more valuable tool for users worldwide.
How to Use Google Translate for Simple Translations
User experience is arguably one of the most critical aspects of any translation tool, and Google Translate excels in this area. Here’s a simple guide on how to use Google Translate for basic translations:
- Visit the website or use the mobile app: Google Translate can be accessed through its website or by downloading the mobile app for Android or iOS devices. Both options provide a user-friendly interface for translating text, documents, websites, and even text within images.
- Enter the text: To begin, simply type or paste the text you want to translate into the input field. Google Translate will automatically detect the source language.
- Select the target language: Choose the specific language pair you want to translate the text into by selecting the desired language from the dropdown menu.
- Review the translated text: Google Translate will instantly provide the translated text in the target language. Keep in mind that the accuracy of the translation may vary depending on the language pairs and the complexity of the text.
- Use the API for website or app translations: For those looking to create a multilingual website or app, Google Translate offers an API that allows seamless integration with your platform. This feature enables you to generate translations for your entire website or app with ease.
- Integrate with WordPress using TranslatePress: If your website is built on WordPress, you can use the TranslatePress plugin to connect with the Google Translate API. This plugin simplifies the process of setting up and managing translations for your website.
By following these steps, you can make Google Translate work for you and take advantage of its capabilities as a translation tool. Remember that while it excels in translating simple texts, it may not be as accurate for complex sentences or idiomatic expressions.
Is There Anything Better Than Google Translate?
While Google Translate is a popular choice for quick translations, there are alternative options that may offer better results in certain situations. Here’s a list of some noteworthy alternatives to Google Translate:
Microsoft Translator is a smart translation app available for Windows, iOS, and Android devices. It offers both business and personal versions, catering to various user needs. With support for over 60 languages, Microsoft Translator enables you to translate images, screenshots, texts, and voice translations. It’s a reliable option for accurate translations, especially in cases where Google Translate struggles with specific language pairs.
Amazon Translate is a cloud-based translation service that uses advanced machine learning to provide fast and accurate translations. It supports a wide range of languages and can be integrated into various applications, such as chatbots, websites, and mobile apps. Amazon Translate is a powerful option for businesses looking for a translation management system that can handle large-scale projects.
DeepL is a translation service that stands out for its impressive accuracy and natural-sounding translations. It utilizes advanced artificial intelligence to understand and process languages more effectively than many other machine translation engines. DeepL supports fewer languages than Google Translate but excels in translating literary texts, idiomatic expressions, and complex sentences, where understanding context is crucial.
SDL Trados Studio
SDL Trados Studio is a professional translation software that combines the power of machine translation with human expertise. It’s ideal for professional translators and businesses that require high-quality translations. The software allows users to create and manage translation memories, ensuring consistency and accuracy across multiple projects.
MemoQ is another professional translation tool that offers a comprehensive translation environment for businesses and individual translators. It provides advanced features, such as translation memory, terminology management, and quality assurance, to ensure accurate translations and efficient project management.
Pairaphrase is a cloud-based translation management system designed for businesses. It supports over 100 languages and offers features such as translation memory, file formatting preservation, and collaborative translation. Pairaphrase is an excellent choice for organizations that need a secure and efficient solution for website translation and localization projects.
What Is More Accurate DeepL or Google Translate?
When comparing the accuracy of Google Translate and DeepL, many users and experts consider DeepL to be the superior option. Although Google Translate is a widely-used tool, its translation quality varies based on the language pair and complexity of the text. DeepL, on the other hand, consistently delivers more accurate translations, thanks to its advanced deep learning algorithms.
DeepL’s ability to understand the context and process idiomatic expressions contributes to its higher accuracy levels compared to Google Translate. While both tools offer web interfaces and desktop apps for personal translations, DeepL is often the preferred choice for users seeking the most accurate translation results.
When Should You Hire A Professional Human Translator
While these translation tools, for the most part, provide quick and convenient translations, there are situations where hiring a professional human translator is the better choice. Here’s a list of scenarios where you should consider employing human translators:
Translating literary text
When translating novels, poetry, or any literary work, the subtle nuances, emotions, and cultural context are crucial. Human translators are more adept at understanding and conveying these elements compared to translation algorithms.
Legal and professional documents
For legal documents, contracts, or any material requiring precise terminology and adherence to specific legal standards, hiring a professional legal translator is essential. They have the expertise to ensure accuracy and compliance with the relevant laws and regulations.
Technical and scientific content
Technical documents, research papers, and scientific materials often contain complex concepts and industry-specific jargon. Human translators with subject matter expertise can provide more accurate translations that maintain the integrity of the original content.
Marketing and advertising materials
When translating marketing content, the cultural context and emotional appeal are just as important as the individual words. Human translators can adapt the message to the target audience, ensuring that it resonates with them and maintains the intended impact.
Medical translations demand a high level of accuracy and understanding of medical terminology, as any errors could lead to severe consequences. Professional medical translators have the necessary knowledge and experience to handle such sensitive materials.
When localizing products, services, or websites for a specific market, human translators can ensure that the content is culturally appropriate and adheres to local customs, preferences, and grammatical rules.
In situations where the highest translation quality is required, human translators can review and edit machine-generated translations, ensuring the final output meets the necessary standards.
The Bottom Line
In conclusion, while tools like Google Translate and DeepL have their merits, the question of how accurate is Google Translate often depends on the language pair and complexity of the text. Professional human translators remain indispensable for many translation needs, especially when dealing with sensitive or specialized content.
At A Foreign Language Service, we offer language translation services that combine the efficiency of technology with the expertise of our skilled linguists, ensuring you receive accurate and culturally appropriate translations. Don’t leave the success of your project to chance by relying solely on the varying accuracy of Google Translate.
Contact us today to discuss your translation needs and let our team of experts provide the high-quality translations you deserve.