What If I Just Use the Google Translate Button on My Website?

 

It’s not uncommon to hear someone ask about using Google Translate (or another free machine translation tool) for their translation needs. Those in the language industry probably hear this question fairly often, especially since there is a Google Translate button on many websites, both personal and professional, prompting users to translate a website into the language of their choice with just the click of a button.

Although those in the language industry will have immediate reservations about using free, automated machine translation professionally, it is not difficult to understand why many would feel this is a good option. After all, Google provides some amazing services, many of which are free. If you have grown to trust Google for these other services, it might stand to reason that you feel comfortable trusting Google for a free translation, as well. Trust us, we completely understand! However, your organization’s brand and your website’s accuracy may be at stake if you are relying on this method to translate content for your visitors.

The ability to correctly maintain both the meaning and the intended impression of your website’s subject is something, at least at this point in time, that can only be accomplished with professional human translators. These translators are able to dissect the content of the page, understand the intention of its message, and then convey that same message and intention in another language.

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Automated machine translation such as Google Translate is unable to identify all of the nuances of a language, and often makes errors involving both the grammar and vocabulary of the target language. If you have ever used the Google Translate button to translate a non-English website into English, it was likely very obvious that the translation was automated and not done professionally by a native speaker. This type of translation does not capture the true original message, even if we can make out what the proper words should have been, some of the time.

If your organization values its branding and professionalism, it is important to have your website translated professionally. A professional translation agency will ensure that a native speaker of the target language who specializes in the subject matter translates your content. The translation will also be reviewed by a proofreader or editor to ensure the quality of the final product. This helps to maintain the professionalism your company conveys through its branding, and it can also keep your company out of legal trouble in certain cases, should your information be translated incorrectly. If you are a food vendor, for example, and your website mistranslates allergy warnings, this could have major legal ramifications for you if one of your customers falls ill.

Even if there are no legal implications, native speakers of a target language will know when a website has been translated through an automated system and may look to your competition for a company that will better communicate with them. After all, good communication is a form of good service.

The process of taking your message, breaking down its intended meaning in all places, understanding the nuances of your ideas and messages, and putting it all back together in another language is complex. Although we completely understand the appeal, we urge you not to rely on a seemingly free service to do this. Just as other aspects of your business are handled by their respective professionals, we recommend doing the same for your translations to help prevent potential mistranslations and bumps down the road.

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Translating Idioms: Why a Professional Translation is Essential

Idioms are an important part of our language, maybe even more than we actually realize. They are so ingrained in our normal language usage that we may even use them without realizing it. It is important to understand what an idiom is. According to Webster’s Dictionary, an idiom is “an expression whose meaning is not predictable from the usual meanings of its constituent elements” or “a language, dialect, or style of speaking peculiar to a people”. Basically, idioms are the expressions and sayings that people use when they speak or write that have their own unique meanings and cannot always be taken literally. There’s no use beating around the bush – we can’t turn a blind eye to them. So what do we do with them when they appear in a text that needs to be translated?

A professional translator will recognize an idiom and find the equivalent to that expression in the target language. More often than not, the expression used in the source language will not be the same as the expression’s corresponding version in the target language. However, the target language will have its own version of the expression that the translator will use instead. It is extremely important to use the target language version of the idiom. If translated word for word, an idiom will lose its intended meaning and may actually cause a complete lack of understanding for the reader in the target language.

Here are some common English idioms with their Spanish equivalents. We have included the literal translation of the Spanish versions just to show how much meaning may actually be lost if one tries to convert the Spanish idiom back into English.

English Source: “To turn a blind eye”
Spanish Target: Taparse los ojos
Literal Back Translation: “To cover one’s eyes”

English Source: “To beat around the bush”
Spanish Target:Andarse por rodeos
Literal Back Translation: “To go on detours”

English Source: “It’s 6 of 1 and half a dozen of the other.”
Spanish Target:Olivo y aceituno, todo es uno.
Literal Back Translation: “An olive and an olive tree, it’s all one.”

English Source: “On all fours”
Spanish Target:A gatas
Literal Back Translation: “Like cats”

While these are a few fun examples, you can see how literal translations can be problematic. The same is true for all of the text you need to have translated, not just for idioms. Anyone who reads the target text should believe it was written originally in his/her language. Literal translations of texts are easy to spot and they can turn customers off to your brand or products, as they are a sign that little care was put into trying to connect with the reader.

Have you come across any literal translations that caused a translation blunder? Feel free to share them below!

 

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What information does ATS consider when providing my free quote?

For each project that ATS handles, we consider several different factors when it comes to providing your free quote. We will consider the project type or service you request, the source and target languages of your project, and the timeline in which the project needs to be completed. No matter what project you need handled, ATS will be sure to offer you the most competitive rates possible while taking these items into consideration.

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A legal document should be handled differently than a technical operating manual and ATS takes project type into account. Since these two areas are so distinct, we have teams of different linguists who work on each one. It is important that our linguists be highly specialized in the content area you request. We have a wide array of linguists with many specialties, so doing so is usually not a problem. If we do not have a specialist in your project’s subject area, ATS will work to recruit someone who is able to handle your project type.

We also take source and target languages into consideration. Language combinations that are more rare sometimes require us to charge higher rates than some of the more common language combinations, for example.

ATS also takes your desired/needed timeline into consideration when providing your free quote. A job that does not need to be returned immediately, and will not rush the linguists who are working on the project for you, will not require any additional fees. However, if the project turnaround time will require our linguists to work overtime-type hours to finish it within the desired timeline, we may need to add rush fees to the quote. You will have the chance to accept the fees or change the timeline of the project.

Interpreting is quoted differently than document translation, since the services require a different set of skills. Similar to translation, however, the type of interpreting service needed will also be something ATS considers when providing your quote. Interpreting for a surgery is handled differently than interpreting for a legal deposition, for example. ATS offers varying types of interpreting services, such as in-person or over-the-phone interpreting. We also take source and target languages into account, just as we do for document translation, as well as the time required for our interpreter to be available. If an interpreter needs to be available for longer than a normal working period, we may need to charge additional fees.

No matter what project or service you need, ATS will be happy to answer any questions you may have and will always provide you with the most competitive rates possible. Please don’t hesitate to email us at freequote@accessibletranslations.com so that one or our Project Managers can assist you at every step along the way – we are happy to help!

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What do I need to know about my translation project before I contact ATS?

No matter where you are in the translation process for your document, Accessible Translation Solutions is happy to help! We can help you determine which services will best fit your language needs, how long it will take to complete, what we will need in order to provide you a quote, and what to expect along the way. We understand that everyone’s time is important, so being able to respond to you quickly and efficiently is very important to us at ATS. If you have questions about your document or web content translation, there are a few things that will help speed things along for you if we have them in advance when answering your question. This way, we can get a complete answer to you more quickly!

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If you are requesting document or web content translation, a copy of the source text will be needed to provide a free quote. Please also let us know the languages with which you’ll be working and the timeline you expect for completion. This will allow us to see the source text, see the length of the project, and ensure the best possible linguists are available to handle your translation depending on the content and type of the document. Since ATS utilizes a separate translator and proofreader or editor for each translation project to ensure accuracy, we’ll also be able to reach out to the proper linguists ahead of time to make sure these individuals are available in the timeline expected. If we are unable to complete the project in the requested timeframe, or if the project timeline falls into the category a rush job, we will let you know as soon as possible so that you are able to properly plan as well.

So how do you contact us for a free quote? You may email us your document in order to make the process easier for you. If you are a new client or wish to request information about a project, please email us at freequote@accessibletranslations.com or you can also fill out the Request a Quote form on our website. If we happen to have any questions outside of the information you’ve provided us, then one of our Project Managers will respond during business hours and request the additional information. And of course, if you have any initial questions for us when you send over your text(s), please don’t hesitate to let us know! We completely understand that document and web content translation may be new for you (or even if you’ve been doing this a while, we know you may have questions at any point!), and we are glad to help with any and everything along the way. We look forward to hearing from you!

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So, what languages can you handle?

Accessible Translation Solutions (ATS) handles a wide array of languages, and this selection of languages is ever-growing. For our most current and up-to-date list of offered languages, please see our List of Languages. If the language you are looking for is not listed here, that does not mean we are unable to provide the service, however. This list of languages is constantly growing depending on our clients’ needs, so we recommend contacting us even if you don’t see the language you need listed.

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Our list of languages that we currently offer displays all languages for which we already have a team (or several teams) of linguists we’ve assessed, worked with, and approved to offer quality translation and/or interpreting services for you. Although we have linguists already approved for these language pairs, we will ensure that the best linguists we can provide are assigned to your project. If our current available linguists do not have experience working in the field your project falls into, we will be glad to use our available resources to recruit a team who will be best-suited to perform the work on your project, whenever possible. For example, if your document is a rental agreement, and our linguists with expertise in legal documents are unavailable, we will then recruit another team to ensure the best possible translation.

This is also true for the languages not currently listed on our page. If the language you are working from or into is not listed on our page, please contact us and let us know the details of your project. We will then be able to begin recruiting a team for your project type. We do all of the recruitment and assessment of linguists so that you don’t have to, and so that you can feel comfortable knowing that the right team of linguists is working to provide you with the best service possible. Our Project Management Team will also oversee the project from start to finish, handling all linguist communication, file passes, and quality control. This way, by the time you receive the translated files, you can be sure they have been handled not only a professional team of linguists, but also a quality control check to ensure your files are ready for use in your target language. No matter which language your document would need to be translated from or into, Accessible Translation Solutions is willing and glad to assist with the best team of linguists for your project.

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