In a pinch, an online translator can usually render a very rough version of a phrase or paragraph, but accurate translation from language translators on the internet is often asking too much of these programs. They are valuable as a free option for an unimportant translation but can’t be relied upon for vital documents or information.
Additionally, machine translators suffer from the following downsides:
1. Poor accuracy
The number one complaint of online translators is that the results aren’t consistently accurate. A machine translator may offer a rough approximation, but without the exact meaning that would be provided by a human translator. Sentences might be garbled because the words are in the wrong order.
2. Unnatural speech
Anyone relying upon a translator to write a business communication or advertisement may unintentionally say something terrible akin to the “I am a doughnut” blunder that President John F. Kennedy uttered while in Germany many decades ago. This type of error is common with a translation that doesn’t consider that certain words might have additional meanings in their country of origin.
3. Regional dialects and colloquialisms
A computer translator might pick up on certain colloquialisms, but regional dialects and slang aren’t always handled so expertly by a computer translator. Some popular words may translate appropriately, but recent slang might result in no translation at all.
4. Lack of contextual understanding
A phrase in one language might have a different meaning in another language, even if the words are translated exactly and directly. A website translator might be able to translate the words exactly, but the meaning might be completely changed because of language quirks and context.
5. Poor handling of technical information
There are many industry terms that aren’t common knowledge for the general public, and the same goes for an online translator. Industry terms might not be in an online or computer translator’s database, which means that communicating with technical documents is almost impossible with an automated translator.
Online or computer-based translators do serve a purpose for unimportant translations where someone simply needs the “gist” of what is being said. Relying upon website translators might be okay when someone’s trying to ask directions in another country or wants to know what to say to hail a cab, but accurate translation with the correct meaning is often best handled by a human mind.