Free Web Page Translation
as Option for Website Owners
Is it possible to get a satisfactory web page translation with the help of a free machine translation service? Many people think that this service does not give acceptable translation results. This stops people from using the service for translation of the content of their websites. The purpose of this page is to give more information. This information may help to make decisions about suitability of free online translation for a particular website.
Write in Plain (or controlled) English language
What is online machine translation service? It is an online service that uses machine translation software for the automatic translation of text. Professional translators do not take part in this process.
Machine translation software has limitations and cannot understand ambiguities, nuances and exceptions of human language. While professional translators can recognize and handle these aspects, machines are not able to do so. Therefore, machines need simple, clear and short sentences in order to produce comprehensible translations.
If a machine cannot analyze the source text, it will produce bad translation. Some causes of incorrect machine translation are as follows:
- Misspelled words
- Abbreviations and acronyms
- Fragments (incomplete sentences)
- Auxiliary verbs
- Grammatical tense
- Problems with punctuation
- Bad grammar
- Long and complex sentences
- Use of “and/or”
- Absence of “in order to”
- Polysemantic words
- Slang, jargon, idioms, neologisms, proverbs and sayings
- Absence of relative pronouns (who, whom, that, which, whoever, whomever, whichever)
- Proper names
- Personal pronouns
- Anaphoric reference
- Ambiguous non-finite forms of a verb
Also, free online translation tools cannot process text that is part of banners or graphics.
Results of researches show that the usage of rules of the Controlled (Plain) English language improves the quality of machine translation. The Controlled (Plain) English language reduces problematic aspects of human language. It implies a simplified sentence structure. The Plain English language makes the source text more suitable for machine translation. There is a free software package that helps to check if your text is written in the Plain English language. Also, you can download free guides regarding the usage of the Plain English language.
Free online machine translation software for web page translation
This page is written in the Plain English intentionally. The purpose is to show the quality of machine translation if the text is written in the Plain English language. If you know a language other than English, you can translate this page into the language that you know. Use the Google Translate tool for this. Then come back to continue reading.
If you want to add the free Google Translate gadget to your web page or blog, click here to get a code.
There are other popular free online translation tools that can be added to your web page for instant web page translation:
- Babel Fish (http://babelfish.yahoo.com; it offers a free translator that you can add to your website)
- FreeTranslation (http://www.freetranslation.com; it offers a free translation tool that you can add to your web pages)
- SYSTRANet (http://www.systranet.com; it offers a free gadget that translates over 52 languages)
- Windows Live Translator (http://www.microsofttranslator.com, you can put the Microsoft Translator web page widget on your website)
Does machine translation give satisfactory results in your language?
Web users are often prepared to tolerate the unpolished result of machine translation. This result may be seen as useful when there is a need to get an idea of content which is available in foreign languages only. Therefore, if machine translation is understandable and accurate, it is good for disseminating the content of your web pages.
Answer the questions:
- Can you understand the meaning of this web page translation in your language fairly well?
- Can you understand enough of the translation to get a general idea of the meaning?
- Does the translation in your language contain the same information as this English page?
- This page contains instructions. Are they translated accurately? Can you follow the instructions on the translated page?
If your answers are positive, then there are no arguments for not using machine translation for your web pages. You can take advantage of web page translation by free online translation systems.
However, it is necessary to stress once again that your web page must be written in the controlled English language in order to get satisfactory results. It takes effort to write in the Plain English language. But if a website owner does not have enough time or money, or human resources for professional translation, the Plain English language and free machine translation software may be a viable choice.
Post-editing may be not necessary if you write in the controlled English language. However, if you want a more literary result of machine translation, you should do post-editing. Post-editing is editing of machine translation by a professional translator (or a bilingual person) to correct gross errors (incorrect translation, misspelling, grammatical errors, additions and omissions made by online translation software).
Here are examples of partial post-editing of Russian and Ukrainian machine translations of this web page. My native languages are Russian and Ukrainian. So I have done post-editing of these Russian and Ukrainian web pages.
If you want a more literary version of your web page translation and if you know two languages, you can post-edit yourself. Or you can buy post-editing services. They are cheap.
Disclaimers and warnings
Web page translation by free online translation tools can have many mistakes and inaccuracies, especially if you do not use the controlled (or plain) English language and do not do post-editing. Machine translation software gives bad results when used for translation of spontaneous and unrestricted human speech.
Therefore, if you want to add to your website a free online machine translation tool, write proper warnings about possible problems associated with the use of this tool. Machine translation is no substitute for professional translation. If a company needs to translate its important information into foreign languages, it should use professional translators. This is because an imperfect result of machine translation may tarnish the image of the company or have legal consequences.
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_____________________________________________________________________ Website owner: Irina Lychak, self-employed freelance linguist, Russian translator, Ukrainian translator, Kiev (Kyiv), Ukraine