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Automatic translation and free translation

>> Automatic translation and professional translation

     Free translation of texts and web pages is offered by many online tools, but is it really an effective solution for translating the contents of your web site or the text of your business presentation? Naturally, the answer is NO. Automatic translation (Machine Translation - MT) uses software which offers a simple conversion of text from one language to another, based on a more or less complete dictionary. Software or online tools for automatic translation can be very useful for translating e-mails you need to read, chat sessions, web pages or texts when you need to have a "broad idea" of what the original document says in a language you do not speak. This should not, however, be confused with a professional translation service for texts or web sites, which is necessarily based entirely on the skills of human professional translators, able to guarantee a high quality end product thanks to experience, knowledge and professionalism which no software can match. 

>> A professional translator is a guarantee of quality

     Anyone who has ever read a translation produced by software or any online tool will have noticed a big difference between the unrivalled quality of a professionally produced translation and the relatively low quality produced by automatic translation. It's not hard to understand why a professional translator can offer results which are greatly superior to any automatic translation tool. A human being understands the context in which a word or phrase must operate, and is familiar with idioms and colloquialisms specific to the destination culture, thereby avoiding errors which can sometimes be extremely embarrassing. Do you want your clients to read your company information, or a letter from you, and burst out laughing? Obviously NOT! Using or publishing text which has been produced by an automatic translation system generally diminishes your company image. Using automatic/free translation to produce different language versions of your Web site is actually the best way to alienate your potential clients, and to show them that you are unable to offer any guarantee of quality or professionalism. Companies who wish to present multilingual versions of their Web site and/or communicate in different languages must therefore seriously consider using a translation agency offering translation and localization services from qualified professionals. 

>> The promises of automatic translation programs

     Unfortunately many people still believe in using automatic translation programs and insist that these programs are the solution to all translation needs. Some of the companies behind these programs publicly state that their software (which is often, by the way, very expensive) produces high quality translations which you can use to build multilingual versions of your documents or Web site, for public presentation. Nothing could be further from the truth! Automatic translation software and free translation tools for sites and texts attempt to arbitrarily define the context into which a word must be inserted, and produce results with grammatical and syntax errors, often bordering on the ridiculous. If you don't believe so, try one of the translation tools for yourself: you can visit our free online translation page, and on this very page you'll find an interface to AltaVista's automatic translation tool, which is based on Systran technology. Select a couple of languages, type or paste some text into the box and click on "translate". The results will speak for themselves! 

>> Professional translation: the right solution

     Text translation and localization and web site translation require a level of stylistic and cultural understanding of the starting text which is not - and will not be in the near future - available to a computer program. Since when has a computer been able to interpret environments (social and cultural) like a human being can? So, never use a free/automatic system to translate a phrase or a text from your language to another language you don't understand: the result may well give your audience a fit of the giggles, but you won't be very happy yourself. By all means instead use the many free interfaces (such as BabelFish from Altavista) to translate a text or a Web page from a language you don't understand into your own language: you'll be able to "rectify" the result, or to understand when the translation is incorrect. Always remember that the result from a software program should be considered an approximate translation, which serves to give you a general idea of the content of the original text, which would otherwise have remained out of your reach. 

Guide to choosing translation and localization services

Ability Top Translations offers translation and localization services between the major international languages, and consultancy on localization in the major world areas. If you have decided to expand into new markets, Ability Top Translations can become your privileged access key to the geo-linguistic market of your choice. Visit the section dedicated to our services and consultancy, or contact us for a quotation; we will be delighted to present you with our best offer for the management of your project. 

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