FREE Translation Resources
Is free translation really free?
FREE Translation Resources
What is Available For FreeLet's start from the beginning. STAR is a professional translation company. We use real humans to translate our clients documents. These real people work in their native language in country translating documents, websites and software applications for our customers. All of these professional people are paid to provide a high quality service. So why are we talking about free translation?
Well, mainly to let people understand the difference between using a professional company to translate a document instead of free software like Google Translate. There are major and very serious differences between them.
How is free translation done?
The majority of free translation is actually done by computers using what is called "Machine Translation". In simple terms the computer programs tries to work out from matching words it has in a dictionary what you are saying. It then takes the translated words it knows and puts them together in a new "translated sentence" which is then presents to you.
The main problem with this approach is that most languages do not have a one-to-one relationship in meaning.
There is the famous saying that in Iceland there are over 50 ways to say "snow", depending on what type it is. However, we just know it as snow. In language terms the sentence structure is different in many languages. Machine translation tries to get the best fit for all. Naturally in some cases it will be wrong.
Google Translate is the most popular program. Others includes Altavista and Systran.
Why you shouldn't use itMachine translation delivers a one size fits all solutions. It cannot tell if your document is legal, a health and safety manual, a letter to a friend or a random set of words, so results are unpredictable.
Another key failing of machine translation is that it lacks context for any terminology. Let's explain.
We want to translate a document about audio equipment, a specification for a Hi-Fi.
The term "Hi-Fi" is very specific; we know because of the context (Audio Equipment) what we are referring to.
Machine translation however just sees the words "Hi" and "Fi".
"Hi" obviously means "Hello" so will be translated in this context.
"Fi" must be a reference number. So we will leave this as is.
If you translate "Hi-Fi" in italian using machine translation you get "Ciao-Fi".
"Ciao" is the Italian for "Hi"
You can see examples of this on the internet by loading your favorite search engine and doing a search for "Ciao-Fi".
When a Home is not a Home
One of the oldest occurances of bad machine translation was when people started using this to translate their websites.
In French the machine translation of the word "Home" was "Maison". In this case "Maison" means "A home" or "A House".
The correct French translation for Home Page should have been "Accueil", or top/index page.
Whilst these are simple examples of bad translation from lack of context think about the impact of your own documents.
What terms do you have in your health and safety manual?
Do your contracts have specific legal terms?
For technical translation, what would machine translation do for "common rail diesel engine".
We translate for the oil and gas industry. The top part of an oil rig is called a "christmas tree". We wonder what machine translation would deliver for this!
Google webmasters make a point of highlighting that bad translation will hurt your Google Ranking.
On the Google Webmaster forum they discuss machine translation: "Automatic translation is convenient and helps people get a quick gist of the page. However, it's not a perfect substitute for the art of professional translation."
See Google Webmaster Forum : Translation and SEO Ranking
Why you should use itOk, so let's be fair - machine translation has to be good for something doesn't it?
Yes, it is
Machine translation is basically a gisting engine. It will certainly help you get the "gist" or idea of a document in another language, quickly and for free.
You can use it to communicate with friends. Most of the time you just need to know roughly what people are talking about to understand. It's great for this. You can send messages to people and be reasonably understood.
So as long as the other person knows there will be mistakes in the translation that's ok.
Can I use it for business?
You may have a website translated into a number of languages. What happens when somone sends in an email in a language you don't understand?
They may be looking for a quote for your product.
Machine translating their email will give you an instant idea whether it's a quote and roughly what they are asking for. So your inbound communications can be handled very quickly.
The best practice is to then have a number of standard replies professionally translated. These can then be emailed to the client so your sales teams can respond quickly to potential new customers. Once the client is closer to buying you can engage your translation company to help you complete the sale. This process means you don't have to have multilingual support for every language. As you begin to grow your export sales you can then hire more people with the language skills inhouse.
Some free translation - done by our human translatorsAt STAR we are often asked for basic translations so here are some we have put together to get you started.
English to German
English to Irish
English to Italian
English to Slovak
English to Spanish
How to say "I Love You" in 28 languages
Really Useful ResourcesSome excellent online resources we recommend.
CIA World Factbook
The World Factbook is prepared by the Central Intelligence Agency for the use of US Government officials and the style, format, coverage and content are designed to meet their specific requirements. It gives background information on virtually every country in the world from population, flags and languages to local information on economics etc.
CIA World Factbook
The EUR-LEX site provides direct free access to European Union law. It is the largest document repository on European Union Law. Available in all official languages of the EU, it has extensive search facilities.
Microsoft Terminology Dictionaries and Language Support
Microsoft makes available a large number of its terminology dictionaries to its customers and translators. If you need to check a term in any language for a Microsoft product then simply visit their online language site. Microsoft Terminology Dictionaries:
Fagan Finder Machine translation
An interesting meta site which uses a number of engines to achieve this is FaganFinder It is certainly worthwhile checking this out, but never use it for real translation. It has a useful option for language identification.
Get a Professional Human Translation QuoteSTAR is one of the world's largest providers of professional translation services. With offices in over 40 countries and employing over 900 people we can deliver your documents in almost any language.
If you need a professional human translation for your documents give us a call on +353 1 8365614 or simply upload your files for a free translation quotation.