Working with a Professional Translator vs Google Translate: What to Expect

Google Translate continues to evolve by the day, and the development team behind the platform is constantly experimenting with innovative new approaches. The increase in quality over the last years has been noticeable, especially when Google started to use artificial intelligence more actively. 

Professional Translator vs Google Translate

Professional Translator vs Google Translate

But when it comes to high-end translation work, nothing beats professional translation services. Some professionals in the field were initially worried that Google might eventually take over their work. But not only has that not happened, all signs are pointing towards it still being very far into the future. 

Google Translate Has Been Improving – But Can It Replace a Professional? 

We’ve seen a lot of active development by Google Translate’s team, especially after 2015. The platform has even managed to score some publicity through being used in environments like court hearings and emergency situations. But a professional translation agency still brings a lot to the table that Google’s product can’t. 

Google TranslateProfessional Translator vs Google Translate

It’s a good option for those who need a free translation tool that works fast and is relatively reliable. But if you want to ensure that your final translation is as close to perfection as possible, using professional translation services is a must. 

The Rise of Artificial Intelligence 

Around 2016, Google changed their approach to translation significantly. The company started leveraging deep learning for Google Translate, leading to many reports of improved performance and translation accuracy. There were also various issues though. Translations sometimes came out with unusual mistakes, likely prompted by incorrect training of the underlying models. 

Google TranslateProfessional Translator vs Google Translate

We’ve been hearing that AI is on the horizon and is about to replace traditional jobs for probably two decades now. Even more if we count the automotive industry and some related fields. But the truth is that AI is still in a relatively infantile phase, and it’s very far from replacing human professional translation services.  

Machines Often Fail to Understand Your Intent 

A major problem with Google Translate and similar services that remains unaddressed is that these engines can’t understand the author’s intent. They provide a very literal translation of their input, only occasionally adapting it to certain contextual cues. The final result is something that technically makes sense, but often completely misses the point when the original text contains things like metaphors, cultural references, slang, and other details that require human experience. 

Machines Often Fail to Understand Your Intent Professional Translator vs Google Translate

Google Translate Doesn’t Offer the Same Performance for Every Language 

There’s also the problem of how Google Translate handles different languages. It works well when translating between English and several popular languages, but as soon as you try to mix things up a bit, it starts to fall apart. This is especially noticeable if you try to translate between two relatively obscure languages. In some cases, the resulting translations may be completely incorrect. 

Language Professional Translator vs Google Translate

When Proper Grammar Is a Must 

Google Translate is also not perfect when it comes to grammar. Translating from English to a language like German makes that very obvious. If you don’t care about perfect grammar, it can do the job in a pinch. But if you want to get translations that you can use in a professional setting, using a professional translation agency is your only viable option. 

Grammar Is a Must Professional Translator vs Google Translate

What’s especially bad in this scenario is that you can’t verify the correctness of Google Translate’s output by yourself. You can try running the translated text through some automated grammar tools, but the reality is that they don’t do much more than what Google Translate itself already does. And if a company like Google doesn’t have a viable solution to improving the grammar of its translations, it’s unreasonable to expect smaller companies to do any better. 

The Hidden Cost of Free Services 

One of the main advantages of Google Translate compared to professional translation services is that it’s free. But like most free products, there are some hidden costs that many people don’t consider at first. The translation might not live up to your quality expectations, and it may fail in subtle ways that are hard to notice. 

Google TranslateProfessional Translator vs Google Translate

You’re also constantly feeding Google your data. You may not have a problem with that for personal translations, but when you’re working with sensitive client data, this changes the context a lot. You can get a translation agency to sign an NDA before you start working with them. There’s no way to force Google to treat your translation sessions with confidentiality. 

In fact, it’s possible that some of your translations will be used to train Google’s models further. And when those translations contain sensitive information, you don’t know where it will end up and who will have access to it.  

Google Translate Still Has Its Uses 

All of this paints a relatively negative picture of Google Translate, but the service is far from useless. If it was, Google wouldn’t continue to invest so many resources into it. It can be a useful tool for quick verifications. For example, you can check the overall validity of translations you’ve received from a professional service. You don’t need perfect grammar to understand the basic idea and compare it against other translations. 

google translateProfessional Translator vs Google Translate

You can also use Google Translate to get a rough word count for any texts you’re planning to have translated. Depending on what languages you’re translating to and from, the word count of the output could be significantly different from that of the input. Using Google Translate, you will get a general ballpark figure of how many words the final text will contain, allowing you to plan your budget before hiring a professional translation agency. 

How The Language Doctors Can Help 

The bottom line is, if you have the resources to hire a competent translator, this is always preferrable over working with Google Translate. If you’re doing any kind of translation for professional reasons, you shouldn’t even consider Google Translate as a viable option. 

Google Translate Professional Translator vs Google Translate

It’s important to vet the translation agencies you’re working with to ensure that their services will match your standard requirements. When it comes to quality, The Language Doctors are a good example of a company that understands the field in extreme detail. Working with translation specialists versed in a multitude of languages, the company can offer flexible translation services that meet the needs of any professional. Give us a call and find out what we can do for you! 

Final Thoughts 

Google Translate has various uses, but it’s not a product intended to replace professional translation services. It’s a great tool for running quick translations for your personal needs, verifying text you’ve had translated by someone else, or estimating certain factors like the word count of the final text. But if you intend to use your translations for any professional purposes, working with a professional agency is always necessary. Thankfully, this corner of the market is well-developed nowadays, and finding someone reliable doesn’t take a lot of effort. 

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