Monday, October 7, 2013

Tech Tip: Google Translate

Our Sherman LMS, Lydia Bertram, frequently sends out "Tech Tips" which outline some new updates or features you might be interested in using someday. This one in particular is pretty neat: It's how to translate entire websites into another language using Google Translate. Even better, the links you click in the translated page are automatically translated as well. Also: There's an app for this on Android and Apple devices. I used it to communicate with a woman who spoke only Portuguese and it worked pretty well.


My own words of warning about online translation services: The translations are not exact. Colloquialisms, idioms, and sentences that require some context are translated literally. For example, the Chinese version of a saying that means essentially, "Study every day and you'll be successful" translates from Chinese to English literally to "Good good study day day up."

A fun example I've always used with students when driving home the difference between translation and interpretation is this: Write a simple phrase in English. Plug it into Google Translate and choose Spanish. Then translate that phrase into French. Then to Portuguese. Then Italian. Now, translate it back to English and see how close it is to your original phrase. It gets farther off when you use Chinese, Japanese and Korean.

This doesn't mean you should avoid using it all together. When you just need the gist of what is being presented, Google Translate is a pretty good tool. Thanks, Lydia!

P.S. "When you need the gist..." might be translated strangely in this application. :)