Should I use Google Translate or a Translation Company?
As a professional translation company, you may think it’s within our best interests not to advise clients to use Google Translate, however, we believe in transparency. As such, below will provide you with an overview of when you should be able to get away with using Google Translate as well as when you may be better off using a translation company.
When Can I Use Google Translate?
Basically, when you’re not concerned about the translation being 100% accurate. If you just want to get the gist of a basic email or wish someone ‘Happy Birthday’ or a ‘Merry Christmas’, then use Google Translate until your heart’s content. In general, Google Translate is quite reliable for simple phrases and best of all it’s free to use.
Google Translate is an excellent tool for getting a basic idea of what something is about and it can save you a bunch of time. So, if you’re just after a quick translation of a document of low importance than Google Translate is your best bet (however, please remember to gamble responsibly 😊).
When Should I Use A Translation Company?
You should use a translation company for anything that needs to be 100% accurate and relied upon by others. Google Translate is not sophisticated enough to translate large texts into coherent and cohesive text with 100% accuracy. Here a few things you may consider having translated by a professional translation company:
Website Translation: Let’s say you’re looking to translate a website from English into another language. We would suggest that you steer clear (or “steer accurately” according to Google’s Chinese translation of steer clear) of Google Translate. For simple terms such as “home” (for your homepage), Google will spit out several different suggestions, the first one being the word for “house”, which is obviously incorrect.
In this basic example, Google Translate selects the word it thinks to be most relevant from a list of words for ‘home’ and in this instance was unsuccessful. The Chinese equivalent for ‘home page’ translates literally to ‘main page’, so Google Translate has guessed incorrectly here. This is just a small example of a translation that could have a large impact on your business image and affect the user experience on your website, which in turn lowers trust levels for your website.
Legal Document Translation: In Australia, all documents to be used for court purposes that have been translated from a foreign language into English must be translated and certified by a NAATI accredited translator. Courts need to be sure that a translation is 100% accurate to make informed decisions. As such, a translation of a business contract that has been run through Google Translate would not be permissible in court.
Medical Document Translation: Items such as Certificates of Diagnosis and Medical Reports should ALWAYS be translated by a professional translation company. When it comes to your health, it is not worth the risk of Google Translate getting it wrong. What’s worth noting, however, is that professional translators may use Google Translate to look up individual terms, as it can be a very helpful tool when used by professionals. In doing so, a translator would type an unknown medical term in Google Translate and view the suggested translations. The translator would then go one step further and research these terms in the medical literature of both languages to see if it is a correct translation. Remember: translators are also researchers. Professional translators don’t hold 10 PHD’s in all different areas such as medicine and law, so when a translator comes across an unknown term, they will simply research it, and make sure it is correct.
Business Document Translations: Not surprisingly, business documents should also be translated by a professional translation company. For example, if you have an important business meeting and are planning on giving a PowerPoint presentation, it is expected in some cultures for you to have your slides translated into the native language of your target market. By doing so, you show your potential business partners you have gone the extra mile for them. You also benefit in that your potential business partners will be able to better comprehend your proposal in their native language and make informed decisions.
If your document is not that important, not too large, doesn’t need to be relied upon by others, and a poor translation isn’t going to affect your image, then go for Google Translate.
If your document is important, needs to be relied upon by others, and your image is on the line if the translation is done poorly, then you should use a professional translation company.
All the best with your translations!