Translation services are not always easily accessible or affordable. Sometimes people require a quick translation of content without spending money, or without worrying about grammar and accuracy; this is where free translation sites and software come into the picture. Free translation software uses a simple word for word approach to translate content and websites. For example, a sentence could mean "This is a mug" in French, but translation software will probably translate it as "this mug".
The problem with translation software is that, artificial intelligence (AI) has not advanced to a level where complicated concepts like cross language grammar can be understood by software. In fact, artificial intelligence as a concept still lacks the capability to tackle simpler concepts like words that have more than one meaning. Although there has been considerable improvement in translation software, the truth is that no translation software can claim to be 100% accurate. In addition, most translation software is free to use and popular translation sites clearly mention they are not responsible for errors that might occur as a result of words being 'lost in translation'. The concept of 'lost in translation' holds true for free translations also, most free translation software are designed to use a 'popular' meaning for words.
For example, a German phrase meaning "We have a match tonight" is usually translated into "we have a play tonight" by most translation software. By and large, translation software is incapable of understanding the underlying essence of sentences, or comprehend the concept of similar words with different meanings. Paid translation services do not employ translation software to aid any of the services they offer, this ensures that all translations are accurate and as close to the original meaning as possible. Since the translator is a human being, the best possible translation is achieved. Compared to a professional translation services, translations software has one big advantage and that is the services are usually free, however the quality of translation makes the translation unusable for any serious purpose other than for understanding the basic meaning of a sentence. One of the major applications of translation services is translating websites; websites have to be translated into grammatically correct and meaningful English to be effective.
A professional look and feel can only be achieved by utilising the services of a professional translation firm. Multinational companies frequently utilise the services of translation companies. For a multinational company it is important to communicate in a thoroughly professional manner with other companies. Sometimes a single misplaced word can make the difference between a compliment and unwarranted or seemingly pointless criticism. As of today, no translation software can replace a human translator, especially when it comes to corporate communications or translating websites.
Currently, the only concrete application of free translation software is in basic translation of documents and websites. Individuals and companies looking for translation of documents or corporate communications cannot rely on free translation software. Free translation services and software can only advance once the concept of AI improves to include more complex linguistic functions.
Neil Payne is the author of this article on Spanish Translation Service. Find more information about English to Spanish Translation here.