In today’s increasingly global and connected world, we have grown used to communicating with people from all over the world. Global contact is now a standard part of day-to-day life for humans from all across the world. However, a big part of this globalization of communication is that we need to hear more languages than ever. Now, when someone speaks to you or sends you a written word in a foreign language, you can use online translation tools to decipher the meaning. Yet with many different translation tools today, which one do you trust to do the job correctly?
For many people, the translation tool they will use is Google Translate. This has become one of the most critical translation tools today, capturing a massive audience trying to communicate with people from all over the world. However, if this is your first time using the tool, you might need to know its operation, pros and cons, and common mistakes to look out for.
This article will break down everything you need to know about Google Translate.
What is Google Translate?
First off, what is Google Translate?
This is a form of neural machine translation that can automatically translate one piece of text into over 100 languages. At the time of writing, Google Translate can use 109 different languages. Used by over half a billion people worldwide, stats claim that Google Translate is used to deal with over one hundred billion word translations per day.
Available as both a website platform and a mobile app, as well as various offline software editions, Google Translate is used worldwide. It first launched in 2006 and quickly became a significant part of Google’s offering. It used documents from the United Nations and European Union to build a large cache of linguistic data that could be built upon, developed, and understood.
Google Translate became the famous head of other translation tools because it makes an apparent effort to provide proper grammar. It re-arranges sentences and adjusts them piece by piece, trying to add a specific translation that feels like something a human would say. So, instead of giving you rough translations, Google Translate tries to provide a more human-like translation.
Who created Google Translate?
The actual development of Google Translate is a Google-wide process, but the mastermind behind the development came from Sergey Brin. Brin is the Co-Founder of Google itself, and he developed the program to solve daily needs. As a significant player in a global company like Google, Brin was annoyed at the number of e-mails he needed help understanding, probably due to poor auto-translations. Instead of creating a contextual translation, most tools he used created an ‘as-is’ translation that needed to be clarified for him. So, he set about finding a solution to the problem – and the solution to solving such an issue was, of course, Google Translate.
Brin is a Russian-born expert and decided to put his expertise into developing a tool that could benefit him and others all at once. They decided to create Google Translate using a “statistical machine translation service” to build upon a unique process. Translating all text into English and then into the desired language allows for creating more contextually accurate content that makes logical sense to the reader.
The Google Translate development cycle
As you can imagine, a tool as advanced as Google Translate has undergone many changes since it was first released. When it was first released in 2006, most of its learning came from looking at other EU and UN documents. Over time, though, that began to adjust. Limits, though, were clear; the SMT system was creating poor grammatical translations, and it was struggling with the accuracy of more complex phrases.
However, the program kept building and growing and, by 2010, was now a commonly used part of the translation community. However, it began to become used on Android and Apple products as a vital part of the next-decade push into smartphones and mobile technology. It even became a part of the Google Chrome browser, being offered as an automated part of the browser itself. Now, it can even translate and pronounce text given in pictures and unfamiliar formats.
By 2014, the tool had continued to grow to an impressive save and could now deal with visual and voice translations. Today, it is commonly used as part of an on-demand voice translation service, with many people having entire conversations using Google Translate alone to parse the meaning of each sentence. By 2016, though, the tool was adapted further and moved to a Neural Machine Translation engine.
This allows for greater use and reliance on “machine learning” to help boost the output and to ensure that entire sentences can be translated at once. This helps to create more accurate, contextual information that makes sense in the context of what was being said in the first place. As opposed to word-for-word literal translations, this made things much more straightforward.
What can Google Translate do?
While it is primarily a tool used for translating text, today, Google Translate can be used for much more than just essential text translations. Today, it is commonly used for the following translation services and needs:
- Translation of the written word. The most common use of the tool allows for over 109 languages to be translated with near-perfect accuracy and many other languages with increasing accuracy.
- Translation of entire documents. Instead of having to translate the document line-for-line, Google Translate allows for the document to be uploaded and translated in a much shorter timeframe.
- Translation of mobile applications. Using a “Tap to Translate” feature, users can take a foreign language application and translate it as best as possible in the needed language.
- Translation of imagery. Today, Google Translate can also translate the text found within an image, translating the text as best as possible into your needed language.
- Translation of spoken content. While still in the development and improvement phases, you can also use Google Translate to live-translate a vocal line of words from someone.
As you can see, Google Translate has many great features that allow it to be used in as many ways as imaginable. It is the go-to solution for practical, reliable translations across some of the world’s most commonly spoken and popular languages. For those looking to understand why Google Translate is such a popular tool, this gives you a clear understanding of why.
With the capability to do so much with just one tool, with ever-increasing accuracy, across so many different tools, translation has always been more challenging than it is when using Google Translate.
The benefits of using Google Translate
As you can imagine, Google Translate has grown to be among the most popular tools of its kind.
The ease with which you can access and use the product is awe-inspiring, but what other benefits make using Google Translate so helpful to the end user?
- Free to use. Unlike other direct translation tools, Google Translate is something that you can use without paying for it. No need for expensive costs, subscription fees, or anything else; if you wish to use this, you load up the app or on your browser!
- Rapid response. While other translation applications can provide similar accuracy, only some can produce the same accuracy level in the timeframe that Google Translate offers. Often, your response and receipt of the translation are seconds.
- We are continuously developing. Thanks to a statistical styling that allows for online translation to be managed from language pair frequency, the Google Translate system is continuously developing and improving, meaning the database is improved by human interaction.
- They are always adding. At the same time, you will soon find that Google Translate can give you all the help you need to see more languages added. New content, new words, and new languages are constantly added to the ever-growing database that Google Translate uses.
The cons of using Google Translate
However, despite the quality and the rapid rate of improvement, Google Translate could be better by any means. Just some of the most significant and most common issues reported with using the software include:
- Lack of context. While the translation process does a much better job of keeping context within the translation itself, it can often produce content that can sound needlessly complex. Google Translate is great, but it cannot guess the context from a more comprehensive piece of text, causing common mistakes.
- Literal translations. Though vastly improved on its original form, there is still a tendency for Google Translate to start producing some literal translations that make comparatively little sense compared to what you would have expected.
- Language pairing. Since the quality of your translation depends on the strength of the language pair, you can find that some languages are much easier to translate to and from one another than others. However, this is a simple translation fact that cannot be avoided.
- Grammatical issues. One of the most common problems with Google Translate is that it can have problems with grammar from one language to the next. This means you could produce content littered with errors you cannot notice.
- Biased reporting. Should you spot a problem with Google Translate, it is increasingly hard to make that complaint known to the developers. This further slows down the process of improvement and can be pretty frustrating.
However, despite the limits, it would be fair to say that, given that it is free and accessible from almost anywhere, Google Translate is making many positive strides.
How to use Google Translate properly
If you are serious about using Google Translate regularly, you need to learn how to work with the tool. Typically, it would help if you were looking for a way to get the most out of the tool, which means making sure you use it correctly. Typically, you will need to download the app or visit the Google Translate website – both offer roughly the same range of features you can use.
The current translation process can handle over 100 languages, more or less, and can read around 90 languages when translating an image. You can now translate conversations on demand in over 40 languages.
If you wish to translate text, you must enter it into the app. Tap the name of the language you wish to convert from on the left-hand side and the language you wish to convert to on the right-hand side. Then enter the text that you wish to convert/translate.
If you prefer to attach a document, you can do so using the small three-line options button next to the Google Translate heading on the app. You can then upload a document and allow Google Translate to run through the translation for you.
To translate an image, you will need to choose images from the source and then choose the target language you wish to work with. Then, you need to aim the camera at the sign, menu, and document and take the photo. This will then offer as best as possible live translations, great for restaurants, billboards, and notices written in foreign languages.
Should I use Google Translate?
While it is still being improved and added to, Google Translate is already one of the most comprehensive translation tools on the web today. Add in the fact that it is free to use, and you can see that using this tool is one of the most innovative ideas that you could have for quicker, more accessible translation on demand.
However, you might get more success and help with professional translations by using a professional translation service instead. Accuracy is everything; for professional standards, relying on a still-improving but ultimately free tool is not the right idea. For on-the-go translations, conversations, and quick queries, though? Google Translate can do more than a good enough job.