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Have you been tempted to translate online?

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The need to communicate across the world is growing every day and with it the demand for translation services, particularly for businesses keen to take advantage of the global market place. It is inevitable, then, that quick and efficient, not to mention cheap, methods are being sought. But how do they work and can you trust them?

Let's look at automated or online translation. In some cases, yes. If you want to translate a single word or common phrase, or to get the gist of meaning, online or automated translation services can provide a quick solution. But it is important to know how such programs work. When a translation is generated, the program looks for the pattern of words in documents that have already been translated by human translators. It then makes an intelligent guess as to what an appropriate translation should be. This process is called “statistical machine translation”.

But, unsurprisingly, this process is prone to enormous error and there is no shortage of examples of often hilarious mistranslations – just put a foreign language news story into a machine translation and see what comes out. All nuance and subtlety is lost and sometimes much more.

So, if the temptation to use a machine translation is just too great, it is extremely important to get it checked and edited by a human who will ensure it is accurate, appropriate and sensible! In translation, particularly for your business, there is no substitute for a human, native speaker.

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