Last-Minute Translations: Why You Shouldn’t Rely on Google Translate (And What to Do Instead)

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Many people assume that Google Translate is the ideal resource when it comes to quick translations. While it’s true that few options generate results faster, that doesn’t make the platform the perfect choice for most translation needs. If you are wondering why you shouldn’t rely on Google Translate for last-minute translations – and what you should use instead – here’s what you need to know.

The History of Google Translate

Launched in 2006, Google Translate has become a go-to resource for anyone looking for a quick and simple translation service. The platform supports over 100 languages and has approximately 500 million daily users.

Google Translate was designed to take a piece of source text and, if it wasn’t in English, convert it to English before providing it into the output language, barring a few exceptions. Essentially, English is an intermediary step in the translation process, regardless of the languages involved.

The entered phrase is cross-referenced with a massive cache of documents during the translation process, mainly taken from European Parliament and United Nations transcripts. Language experts were not used to create rules regarding grammar and word use, primarily because language can evolve quickly, and that approach isn’t practical for a platform like Google Translate.

Generally speaking, the outputs provided by Google would typically cover the broader intent of the original message. However, inaccuracies with word choice and grammar were relatively common, varying in severity from slight too highly significant.

By late 2016, Google shifted its approach, embracing a deep learning model and relying on neural machine translation. Instead of translating a phrase one small piece at a time, the platform can now review entire sentences all at once, allowing it to account for context when providing outputs. Additionally, a wider range of source documents was introduced.

Over time, Google gathered data as users continued to rely on the service. This allowed it to identify patterns that improved results accuracy.

Why You Shouldn’t Rely on Google Translate for Last-Minute Translations (And What to Do Instead)

The biggest reason why you shouldn’t rely on Google Translate for last-minute translations is accuracy. Simply put, Google Translate isn’t as accurate as a skilled human translator.

For Google Translate to provide pristine results, a few conditions must be met. First, the input text needs to be well-structured, using formal language with short, simple sentences. Second, it needs to discuss a topic that’s well covered in both the source and output languages, increasing the odds that Google Translate has ample points of reference to use when creating the translation.

If any of those points don’t apply to the source text, the accuracy diminishes greatly. For example, if the sentence is long and features informal language, the results will be less accurate. Similarly, if it discusses a topic that isn’t widely discussed, giving Google fewer reliable references in its data store to draw upon, accuracy can also be an issue.

Additionally, the language itself can play a role. While Google has access to ample data for widely used languages like English, Spanish, French, and Chinese, it doesn’t have as many resources available for many other languages. This can increase the difficulty of providing accurate translations if a lesser-used language is involved.

One prime example occurred in 2012. The Malaysian Defense Ministry updated its website, relying on Google to translate the text into English. This led to some errors, including stating that women shouldn’t wear “poke out the eye” attire, which was a mistranslation of “pakaian menjolok mata,” which refers to “revealing” clothing.

Even after the mishap – which was discussed heavily, giving Google access to far more language data regarding the phrase – Google Translate today states that “pakaian menjolok mata” means “eye-catching clothing.” While that’s notably closer, it isn’t entirely accurate either.

If both the source and output text are in a lesser-used language, the accuracy can diminish even further. There is far less data on both the source and output languages with unconventional language pairs. That makes it far more difficult for Google to get a reliable result.

However, that’s not the only concern people should have regarding Google Translate. Another issue is a lack of privacy. Any information submitted through Google Translate is potentially stored and analyzed by Google. While this isn’t concerning if you’re searching for a relatively innocuous phrase, it could be worrisome if anything you need translating needs to be kept private.

For example, using Google Translate for legal or medical documents could mean allowing a tech giant to have access to sensitive information. The same goes for relying on the service to translate proprietary information from business documents.

Google also doesn’t alert you that a translation may be inaccurate. There’s no rating system or confidence score provided with the output. Similarly, there isn’t a warning that source data is limited, potentially increasing the odds of mistakes. Instead, Google produces the results without letting the user know that an issue is possible.

Fortunately, all of the issues that come with Google Translate are avoidable. By using a professional language services provider, you can get last-minute translations handled quickly and correctly, all without having to worry about privacy issues.

Are You Looking for a Reliable Language Services Provider for Last-Minute Translations?

At times, getting a document translated quickly is an urgent matter. As a result, you need to have access to a reliable language services provider to ensure you can get your last-minute translations handled efficiently and accurately.

If you need a dependable translator, Acutrans is here. At Acutrans, our team provides high-quality certified document translations quickly and efficiently, including in specialty areas like medical, legal, and technical. Additionally, Acutrans offers post-editing machine translation and localization services, ensuring you get the top-notch results you need.

Additionally, if you require a skilled interpreter, Acutrans has you covered. Acutrans offers interpretation services – including on-site, video remote, and over the phone – in 200 languages.

If you need a dependable language services provider, the Acutrans team can provide a quick and professional solution. Contact us for a free quote today.