Free Site Translator: How to Avoid the Risks and Reap the Rewards

Free Site Translator: How to Avoid the Risks and Reap the Rewards

The Risks of Free Site TranslatorsIt’s one thing to write great content, but it’s another to maintain the quality of content across languages and geography. Quality content helps in increasing search engine rankings. It boosts online presence and helps reach out to a global audience.

To get marketing content right, you must be aware of the risks of using a free site translator.

Even the most perfect machine translation (MT) engine is far from being accurate. From accurate to context-aware, there is another difficult step to take. And just because in some cases computers may come close to accuracy, it doesn’t mean you don’t want a translator that makes your content really shine.

What Is It that Machines Can’t Do? And Why?

In the 1950s it seemed as if computers were going to make a splash in the world of translation, but it’s taking time for them to assimilate the complexities of language. What keeps machines from catching up? You may think that parsing sentences is some scholarly skill that has nothing to do with marketing.

But the human advantage when it comes to language is very much related to our experience of what are the odds of something happening in the real world. Imagine that your company slogan is “Time flies like an arrow”. A machine translator immediately detects up to five different ways to parse the sentence. For instance, one in which the insects called “time flies” are keen on weaponry.

Computers are impressive in processing information; the problem lies with their inability to make choices. They don’t know which option is the right one, and even if modern statistical-based free site translators have ways to partially correct the problem, there’s no guarantee that they will get it right. Your customers, on the other hand, will notice the presence or the absence of that human “common sense” which makes all the difference.

Paid Machine Translation: Beware the Post-Editing Cost

Paid MT is available and it comes with perks and difficulties. The system can be “taught” to process extremely large volumes of content, but you will have to expand your budget to allow for that training. In addition to that, post-editing would almost always be required. So, consider that cost, too.

Here is why training and post-editing are necessary. Have you ever had the feeling that something sounds like your language, the words are in the dictionary, but it’s not the real thing? To make it sound like the real thing, human translators have to edit the MT output. For instance, they may choose not to translate capitalized words to avoid the translation of proper names, like your brand name, but then that word at the beginning of a sentence won’t be translated either. Again, machines are helpless in making decisions. Before or afterwards, someone has to be there and do that for them.

E-Commerce Website Translation: The Irreplaceable Human Touch

Does e-commerce website translation make the case for the use of MT? For starters, a certain level of human translation will still be necessary. MT may be suitable in e-commerce website translation, but you will need someone to help the MT engine understand and learn the terminology of your domain.

A very different question is whether it is advisable to use a free site translator or not. In principle, it depends on what your requirements are. There’s a major drawback, though: free online translators are blind to context. That way, not only company-specific names are hard to interpret, but also simple terms like “home” may be ambiguous. More importantly, the ability to make an impact on your readers will be lost: global audiences want companies to speak their language the way they speak it, and not error-ridden.

Is Machine Translation Ready Yet?

Free online tools have their virtues, that is, speed and low cost, but they are rarely used by marketers for customer-facing content. The good news is that you don’t have to forget about computer-generated translation altogether. Start by assessing your real needs to figure out what translation tools are best suited for your business. If you are looking for a flexible solution, the right translation software may give you the possibility to combine MT with other tools and make up for its shortcomings while taking advantage of the benefits.

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About Carlos Garcia-Arista

I am a native Spanish translator based in Barcelona, Spain. I have degrees in journalism and Spanish philology. I also work as a freelance writer.

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