Free Programs for Translation - Quynh Huong Center for Foreign Language Translation & Education

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17 Jun 2020

Free Programs for Translation

Although there is no substitute for a professional translator with their knowledge of linguistics, there are less expensive ways of translating a large amount of text. One way is to use a machine to translate, then ask a native speaker to correct any errors.

It is easy to find native speakers through universities. Contact the language department and ask for a volunteer who will correct your translation for a lower rate. Students are often looking for ways to earn money. Or you may hire a good document translation service.

The top three machine translation programs were reviewed. These were chosen by checking with bilingual speakers as to which programs they preferred.

Using three different languages, Spanish, Russian and Mandarin Chinese, I had the following sentence translated into these three languages – “Your satisfaction is our number one priority.” This sentence was copied into each program and translated back into English.

Google Translate

Results: Spanish version is “Your satisfaction is our number one priority.”

Russian and Mandarin Chinese version is “Your satisfaction is our top priority.”

Google Translate works best with European languages, as it was designed in the West. It has many unique features, which are all free and simple to use. It has the most features and tools available.

Using this program, words, phrases, documents, are all able to be translated. One special feature is GChat, which gives you the opportunity to work in collaboration with both the program and a human translator at the same time. GChat can be found under the link, “Translator Toolkit.”

In order to use JavaScript code, you will have to accept an icon on your page – “powered by Google Translate.” Developers can embed this in their web page, and it will automatically detect language settings and translate text. It may not be accurate but is a beginning.

Yahoo! Babel Fish

Results from Babel Fish, named after a species in ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’, written by Douglas Adams, were somewhat different.

Results: The Spanish version is “Its satisfaction is our priority of number one.”

The Russian and Chinese versions were quite different. The Russian - “Your correspondence is our priority one.” while, the Chinese version became - “Your satisfaction is our first primordial consideration.”

Babel Fish also has the capability of translating web pages. It also offers it codes to developers so they can add a JavaScript tool to their page. There is an icon allowing for translations.

The number of languages available is somewhat limited, and is missing Arabic, Hindi and Urdu. Those available include Chinese, French, Dutch, Greek, German, Japanese, Italian, Spanish, Russian, Portuguese and Korean.

Free Translations

In addition to free translations, this site also offers a professional translation costing about $50 per 100 words.

The results in this case were:

The Spanish version became “Its satisfaction is our number one priority.” However, in Russian it became “Your satisfaction – our priority number one,” and Chinese, “Your satisfaction is our first priority.”

Free Translations is run by a professional translation group, SDL International. It has offices in 34 countries. The tools are similar to the other two, but the reviewer felt that Mandarin Chinese was best with this program.

Although the tools are similar in both Babel Fish and Google Translate, Free Translations took more time to complete the task. Their professional translation service is unique among these three programs. It is simple to get a quote based on the number of words. It does limit the amount of free translations permitted in each 24 hours, or you can pay a small fee to increase this daily amount.


After considering the accuracy and services available from these 3 programs Google Translate seems the most popular and accurate, with bilinguals. Most services are also free. Mandarin to English translations were best on Free Translations, and they have a professional service available. Yahoo’s Babel Fish offered the least number of language options, and was the least accurate of the three.

Although these programs are a beginning, a good translation needs to be checked by a bilingual before publishing.

Source: Education News

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