There are various automatic translation services available now for free, which will translate documents, or indeed entire websites to and from various different languages. In the past, automatic translation was generally dreadful but with new techniques that use known good translations as a knowledge base to improve their output, the results are getting better all the time. Given the ease of use of these services, it is obviously tempting to use them to translate your website, technical documents and even product documentation into different languages instead of using a professional translation company. For amateur or personal sites, there is no reason at all why you shouldn’t do this.
However, for a professional site, these automatic translation services are nothing like good enough to do a decent job yet. Visitors to your site who will be reading say, the French version of it will be native speakers and the little errors that the automatic translators make are usually quite silly and often change the whole meaning of the text in a bad way. The native speakers will obviously spot this straight away and when they spot simple errors like this their confidence in what is on the rest of the site will, quite sensibly, be quite heavily reduced.
One important thing you need to do after a translation is to proof read it and see if it makes perfect sense to a native speaker and this is where a professional translation company will always win over the automatic systems since their translators are experts in both languages – so stick with the professionals…At least, for now.
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