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I am afraid I must confess I have never been fond of machine translators. To be honest, I have always considered them completely useless things aimed at reducing the costs of a human-quality translation and in some extreme cases taking away jobs from real Translators. And what I think is even worse, some people truly believe human translation can or wil be able to be replaced by such a thing as an impersonal, insensitive, and intuitionless machine translator.

Well then…after this sort of catartic beginning, let me say that I have been making a research trying to set aside my own prejudices and looking for positive things online Machine Translation services have…at least some of them. I would like to share my impressions with you. These are my top four online translation services.

Google Translate

Google Translate is still a beta service provided by Google Inc. In my opinion the bestonline translation service, its main function is the translation of texts or webpages into the desired language. It supports a truly good set of languages, and for some of them users may be asked to kindly add possible translations, especially in the case of technical terms so as to be included in future updates to the translation process.

Unlike other translation services such as Babel Fish and Yahoo which are based on SYSTRAN, Google Translate has its own translation software. The translations delivered are quite good indeed, though not perfect of course.

Of course, it also has its drawbacks, or let say…limitations. While the outcome when translating some languages is truly good enough (for instance from Spanish into English), it does not always deliver completely accurate translations, given that it does not apply grammar rules (nor human-like intuition of course) but a statistical analysis.



Another free online translator that is pretty popular these days is the World Lingo translator website. WorldLingo is a translation company which online service allows translating parts of text or complete webpages,by using the same site.

Statistics say that this machine translation software can reflect the meaning at an accuracy rate of 70-%75. I must say that I tried it out…and I was happy to see that, if not 70 %, at least it does offer an accuracy of 60%, which is a very good percentage.

WorldLingo translator supports the translation of English, Chinese (Simplified), Chinese (Traditional), Dutch, French, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese (Brazilian), Russian, and Spanish.

It also allows you pulling up a window with drop-down menus where you can insert special characters (such as accented letters) and selecting which semantic field the documen

t belongs to (General, Legal, Technical, etc.) Any way, do not trust this too much, your choice will not make a big difference in the outcome.

SDL FreeTranslation

SDL is very popular among professional translators for its well-known TMs (Translation Memory) which truly put a load away of their backs when dealing with huge translation projects.

Regarding its free online translation service, something interesting I found out is that when you copy-paste your text to translate, you can choose between a machine Free Translation and a Human Translation which in some seconds gives you a quote and offers the translation done by a human being.

However, while showing a good deal of respect to professional translators, their MT application is not at all good enough for me. Actually, the level of accuracy is minimal, though of course it may help you to get an idea of the overall meaning of the translated text.

Yahoo Babel Fish

Babel Fish uses the technology of Systran. It offers the service of free online translation of short texts and webpages. It also allows including a translation box in your webpage to see it in several languages (English, Spanish, German, French, Italian and Portuguese.

Although it is in a way backed by the old quality and popularity of Systran, I must say the translations it offers are far away from being totally accurate. Users could grasp the general meaning of the text by making some effort, but in my opinion it is definetely not a really good app.

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  1. cousteau
    July 27, 2016 at 10:34 am

    Year 2016. Google Translate is nothing but a joke. It has many useful features such as app integration, APIs, in-browser translation, website translation, text to speech, and the app even has camera input; now the only thing it needs is to translate properly.

    The worst part is that people seem to believe this works, so they provide automated translations of websites, Google Play apps are translated automatically, etc. Many times I've found myself having to translate something from Spanish to English to figure out what it really meant before being automatically translated to Spanish. It looks like they translate text word by word, resulting in a sentence that makes no sense at all, and when they try to make a minimal effort to reorder the sentence (e.g. in German) it is even worse.

  2. You Translate
    January 18, 2010 at 2:56 am

    Please try our new community based translation platform called "You Translate". It's much better than any free machine translation service as it's powered by people:

  3. TranceQ
    December 20, 2009 at 8:27 am

    Trouble translate bosnian?
    Bosnian came up from croatoserbian which split into 2 different languages. Croatian and serbian, bosnian and montenegrian grammatically dialects differ's. Still same root language (ex yugoslavian croatoserbian or serbocroatian).
    Instead of searching for bosnian try on croatian or perhaps serbian .|en||en|

    Wishing everyone luck with translation

  4. asdfoo
    September 27, 2009 at 12:16 pm

    @Jim: how much do they pay you? ;) But seriously, what does it matter if Google Translate is "4 times slower" (whatever that's supposed to mean) if you can only ever use it as a service? That means it's running on Google's servers, which are Fast.

    Besides, traditionally, RBMT has been quite the slow-poke compared to SMT; if you want to make an argument for RBMT, that's not the place to do it. What RBMT _is_ good at though, is producing translations that are true in meaning to the original text. You can easily make an SMT-system such as Google's produce a translations that looks quite fluent, but has completely twisted the meaning (esp. proper names, like translating "Praha" (Prague) into "Dublin"). Also, RBMT has the advantage of being easy to change if someone does notice a problem, whereas changing an SMT system involves retraining on an improved corpus (this might be helped by using a TMX instead though).

  5. Jim
    September 27, 2009 at 7:40 am

    I found Transclick to be much more accurate (I tried using their 126+ dictionaries and microglossaries at and its really better than Google...also, Transclick just won a Runner-Up award from The Wall Street Journal Innovation Awards. Transclick specializes in mobile email, SMS and Instant Messaging Translation and is sold, I see, on BlackBerry App Store, Nokia Ovi App Store, ATT Wireless and Handango. Clearly, they are the leader in mobile translation of email, IM and SMS, and is more accurate than all of the ones you reviewed.

    I hear that Google, which uses statistical machine translation, is 4 times slower than rule-based machine translation. Also, Google scanned the UN corpus of translated docs going back to 1945, so at least for 6 official UN languages, its good for translating political science--that's whats in the Transclick's subject domain specific dictionaries solves that problem by having translation memory that is matching the connotations in a context-sensitive way, producing better linguistic accuracy. Check it out.

  6. sreekanth
    September 20, 2009 at 6:45 am

    very nice........

  7. Raghu
    September 8, 2009 at 5:27 am

    Nice post... Google seams to win in all categories

  8. Kevin
    August 28, 2009 at 4:21 am

    There's also which has a lot of Romance languages (Spanish, Catalan, Portuguese, French) and is expanding into Scandinavian languages.

  9. Audrey
    June 16, 2009 at 3:19 am

    I would add one more - Moztrans for Mozilla by Interlecta

  10. Susie Thomas
    May 28, 2009 at 12:31 am

    I've tried all of the free language translations sites and have given up. Why waste your time when you have an important document? There are a number of good professional language translation firms that charge relatively little and provide very reliable and quick results. I would suggest

  11. Chief Jollo
    April 27, 2009 at 12:05 am is a 100% FREE online translation service that compares machine translators (e.g. Google Translate, Yahoo babelfish) and also offers human translations.

  12. matt
    April 21, 2009 at 8:07 am

    One of the better options I've come across when needing translation work done promptly and at reasonable cost is myGengo They only offer translation between Japanese, Spanish, and English at the moment, but sounds like they will be adding many more over the next few months.

    I like their promptness, quality is good, and you can't beat the cost for human translation!

  13. Steve
    April 15, 2009 at 10:52 am

    Hey guys - what about the Nice translator? this one translates 34 languages *simultaneously*! About the same accuracy as Google, and yes, I agree about Google being the most accurate out of all of them.

  14. Hector Alejandro
    April 7, 2009 at 10:18 pm

    The best site I've found for translating is its best for short phrases or individual words, but the forum tool integrated into the site is the best (at least for spanish-english)

    • oupsemma
      July 11, 2009 at 11:14 am

      I totally agree with you; WordReference is also the best I have found for French-English.
      Google trnslate is a total inept when it comes to French translating!

  15. Mike Unwalla
    April 7, 2009 at 3:17 am

    @María Florencia Russo: To be honest, I have always considered them completely useless things aimed at reducing the costs of a human-quality translation and in some extreme cases taking away jobs from real Translators.

    In some cases, machine translation takes jobs away from human translators. If a machine can translate with sufficient accuracy, why must a company spend money on an expensive human translator?

    In many cases, machine translation does not take jobs away from human translators. Machine translation creates new markets. Content that was previously too expensive to translate by humans can now be translated by machine.

    @María Florencia Russo: And what I think is even worse, some people truly believe human translation can or wil be able to be replaced by such a thing as an impersonal, insensitive, and intuitionless machine translator.

    The belief of people is not important. The reality is that "today, more words are translated per year using MT [machine translation] than are translated by human translators, and the demand continues to grow" (Localization Industry Standards Association,

    @Maria Florencia: It is worth mentioning that the level of accuracy oftern has to do with the complexity of the target language.

    The accuracy of translation depends also on the quality of the source text.

    @techandlife: I’ve come across a number of blog posts mentioning online translation services but this is the first I’ve seen that looks at the quality of the translation. That’s most helpful.

    For another evaluation of machine translation, see

  16. Kris
    April 6, 2009 at 7:13 pm

    Here's something cool that combines instant messaging and language translation:

    It translates your instant messages in real-time,in the language of your chat buddy.

  17. !
    April 5, 2009 at 4:56 pm

    Its better something than nothing. I can´t believe you expect a exact translation from automated systems and so on you blame on it once and another. Come on, get your fits on the ground. This tools helps to get you an idea of what it says and are free. They are actually usefull.

  18. A
    April 5, 2009 at 2:19 pm

    An intriguing twist on this kind of service:
    34 languages, translates as you type in the original text, either auto-detecting or accepting chosen original language.
    Translations within English other Germanic languages fairly good, as is that within Romance languges. Across groups it's OK.

    • cooldude
      April 15, 2009 at 2:02 am

      I have tried this service out of curiosity. It looks like this service uses the google translate engine.

  19. techandlife
    April 5, 2009 at 3:49 am

    I've come across a number of blog posts mentioning online translation services but this is the first I've seen that looks at the quality of the translation. That's most helpful.

  20. ddd
    April 5, 2009 at 3:13 am

    u wont cuss there all bull shit

  21. ddd
    April 5, 2009 at 3:11 am

    thay r all crap

  22. Henry
    April 5, 2009 at 3:00 am

    Translation Memory systems (like SDL sell) did not put a load away of translators' backs. They just took money away from translators' purses because they cost ridiculous prices, they are a waste of time and they lower translation quality drastically.

    Only managers (I mean people who have not studied translation or linguistics, manage translation companies and make decisions) can think that text is a concatenation of words and sentences and TM tools are good.

  23. macobex
    April 5, 2009 at 2:02 am

    What is the most reliable? Thanks. I hope they will add more language soon. NOt only the popular ones.

    • ddd
      April 5, 2009 at 3:14 am


    • Maria Florencia
      April 6, 2009 at 9:46 am

      Google Translate is the best one in terms of percentage of accuracy. It is worth mentioning that the level of accuracy oftern has to do with the complexity of the target language.

      • ttttt
        October 29, 2009 at 5:26 am

        they are alll bull crap
        the grammer is soo bad

      • bah
        October 29, 2009 at 6:06 am

        what do you mean by "accuracy"? there are two typical measures used, one is fluency, this is how good it sounds:

        1. Apples satisfy me
        2. I love apples

        here 2 is more fluent, because that's what people usually say in English... a related measure is grammaticality ("I loves apples" would score lower than 2. on this measure).

        Google Translate is great with fluency, mainly because it really is based on what people say in a certain language. They have a lot of data for eg. English and Spanish, so they can easily check if something sounds fluent.

        What they score lower on, however, is accuracy. To give an example, entering the Swedish phrase "Själland kan ses her", the Danish translation becomes "Zealand kan ses her", when it should be "Sjælland kan ses her" -- ie. it changed the name. This makes Google Translate unreliable for getting hold of factual information, since key words and phrases may be distorted (although they may be very "readable", you're reading something other than a translation).

  24. Clint
    April 4, 2009 at 8:53 pm

    There are a lot of online translators out there but many of them use the same underlying translation engine. I think the Google Translator is probably the most commonly used, but accuracy kind of varies between the different translators.

    Some are better are certain aspects of language and others are better in other areas.

  25. John B
    April 4, 2009 at 6:10 pm

    I tend to use Google Translate and SDL in combination for Spanish/English. I find that using the two of them together, I get a very accurate idea of what I'm translating. They tend to pick up each other's slack. Often though, Google alone gives me the best translation and is the only one I'll need.