Free translation software: pros and cons
The introduction of translation software has greatly contributed to overcoming the language barriers induced by globalization. Despite the fact that English has become a universally recognized language in cross-border communication, international business affairs, and global media, the importance of translation as a means of reaching a wider audience remains essential.
The media, book publishers, film distributors and retailers expand their reach by introducing their products to foreign markets in multiple languages. Companies are also expected to hire professional translators, both written and spoken, when dealing with their partners abroad. For small businesses and online publications on smaller budgets, translation software often turns out to be a viable alternative to expensive translation services and expensive employees.
People are just as eager to take advantage of these technological advantages in everyday communication. In an attempt to improve their web experience, Internet users often turn to automated online translators when viewing content on foreign websites. It gives them access to information that they could not read otherwise, and for people who are not fluent in English, this is a huge advantage.
However, the use of free translations has been widely criticized by educational institutions, Internet experts, and interested individuals. In their eyes, these services produce less than stellar results and provide a diluted version of the source material, only adequate to give a general impression of the translated content.
Google Translate is the most popular translation service online and the low quality of its machine translations is often cited as an example of criticism against free translators. The service often faces literal translation problems and the inability to identify the proper terminology.
The quality of any translation is highly dependent on the ability of the translator to recognize the context and tone of the source material, and any machine lacks this ability. Idiomatic conventions, metaphors, and expressions are often misinterpreted by computer programs, even if their developers have programmed the correct interpretations. There is always room for sentences or mistakes related to context that will seem uncomfortable to a human reader.
The disadvantages of free translation software substantially limit the range of its uses, but the advantages are also plentiful. Google Translate and its like do not require payment for their services. The undeniable speed and intuitive design of web-based translation applications make it possible to translate an entire web page on the spot, giving the internet user instant access to the content of a foreign website.
Common criticisms of free translation software stem largely from its misuses and do not mean that it should not be used at all. People who value speed and ease of use or who do not want to purchase expensive software or translation services will be fully satisfied with the results that free translation software offers.
On the other hand, people who require high-quality service in their businesses or courses should never use free software for that purpose. They will benefit most from manual or computer-assisted translation, which allows a competent person to control the process.
However, the most cost-effective approach would be to combine these methods and use the translation provided by the free software as a reference for a manual translator who is fluent in both languages.