We are lucky nowadays to live in a world where language translation is something available to all. There are loads of quality translation sites and services out there, whether it is for business purposes, help with language learning or maybe you’re just curious about different cultures. Today we are having a look at some of the best translator services online today.
Best Translator sites
Google Translate is somewhat notorious for some hilarious botched translations. However, the service has steadily been improving over the years and is now more likely to produce a coherent translation. It inevitably has to be the most famous translation service online, hosted by the internet behemoth that is google.
The real advantage of google translate is the scope of the translations available. They have 72 languages included in their translation app. In everything google aims for universality. They want to be the one-stop shop for information and their goal naturally is to include as many languages as possible. Where else can you translate a paragraph from Yiddish to Zulu I ask you? Of course, language translation between the biggest languages is better supported and more accurate, but it is nice to have those more niche languages available too.
As is typical of google services, the site is nice and clean, pretty much free from ads and oh so user-friendly.
Of course, it isn’t going to beat a professional translation, but it is still one of the best translators on a budget. Don’t knock it until you try it!
TakeEasy is an alternative to the Machine Translation services out there. They provide a real-time online translation and interpreter service, with all human translation, potentially providing the best translator online today. They cover 11 languages and the first translation call is free. However after this, it costs $1.99 per minute, so this is definitely not a cheap option. TakeEasy is most suited to professional scenarios where an accurate translation is needed.
Dictionary.com host their own translation service. This one is actually pretty close to Google’s offering in terms of scope. On dictionary.com there are over 53 languages to choose from which is pretty good.
Unfortunately, they apply a 300 character limit to any translation done which is unfortunate. It is a bit of a mystery why these sites impose such limits.
Bing, of course, is the Microsoft alternative to Google. It is their attempt to get a piece of the huge search engine market. Generally, Google exceeds Bing in most of its services. However, for translation, there is a significant number of people out there claiming that Bing beats Google at this game. Bing have made a solid effort in the race to become the best translator.
Both these services use SMT or Statistical Machine Translation. This means that the computers at Bing analyse millions of pre-existing translated documents from the web to get an “understanding” of how to translate, the vocabulary to use and the way the grammar is structured. It surely is some complex stuff and it is amazing that machine translation works at all given the complexity of human languages.
Bing translate will pick the most statistically relevant translation from a range of options when asked to translate a text. Presumably, these programs are meant to “learn” with time and get better with continued uses and iterations of their code.
However, these programs can potentially get worse at translation as they may pull some of the bad translations done by computer programs as an example of how to translate!
Like Google, Bing has a nice clean user interface and allows translation from a wide variety of languages, specifically 43.
Some maintain it does a better job than google. This probably depends on the languages being translated and personal taste. It is worth checking out both however to see for yourself. In any case, competition is healthy, and Bing being strong means Google has to up their game meaning we the user are more likely to get the best translator available.
This is one of the more interesting machines translator services. The website translates to and from 35 different languages but uses the results from a variety of different websites in the process allowing you to pick the translation you prefer most.
This has obvious advantages and can really save you time as opposed to visiting a variety of different sites. It also means you aren’t relying on one translation, and you potentially get a better understanding by viewing the alternatives.
Is it the best translator? Probably not, but it is a very good alternative and offers something different.
Ackuna is an interesting non- computer translator app. It has a community of 33,000 real life translators that translate documents and websites by crowdsourcing.
The founder of Acuna, Alex Buran, claims his service aims to make Babelfish and Google Translate irrelevant. There aim is to create the best translator possible. Ackuna does not produce instant machine translations. On the contrary, they blend language learning and crowdsourcing to produce a free language translation app. Their ultimate goal is to create the worlds largest translation memory.
Ackuna uses a pool of translators and does not need to hire or fire any translators. They peer review each other work with the aim of producing as good a translation as possible.
You can sign up to this site for free and post a project, specifying your target language. It is then left to the pool of online translators to do the work.
This site is more of a translation curiosity than anything. SYSTRANet uses the SYSTRAN translation program which is one of the oldest pieces of machine translation software dating back to 1968. Unlike Google, Bing or Babblefish, SYSTRANet uses rule-based machine translation, not statistical machine translation. This means that the translation is governed by set rules and not by an algorithm that searches the web. It is worth giving a go as sometimes SYSTRANet may produce a more sensible translation.
What to use?
What is the best translator out there?Essentially it comes down to what your needs are. Google and Bing are the best for immediate translations for a quick reference. However, I wouldn’t take their results as an excellent translation that you could use for professional purposes or to create a website in a new language. These SMT websites, however, are improving over time as the algorithms continue to “learn”.
Ackuna is a fantastic alternative that might produce more natural translations by the magic of crowdsourcing. It is worth noting however that these translations are not instant – so you have to wait a bit for the results.
Finally, you still can’t beat translations by real paid human translators. Take Easy is expensive but also exciting as it promises real-time translations charged by the minute.