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The world is smaller than ever thanks to the internet, and while growing numbers speak a handful of 'languages of business', such as English, there's still a huge need for localization.
A big part of localization, and one of the most costly, is translation. For businesses praying for better automated translation solutions, Google hopes to be of help.
Yesterday, the search giant announced the launch of a paid Translate API for businesses:
The Google Translate API provides a programmatic interface to access Google’s latest machine translation technology. This API supports translations between 50+ languages (more than 2500 language pairs) and is made possible by Google’s cloud infrastructure and large scale machine learning algorithms.
Pricing for the Translate API is based on the number of characters of text translated. Every million characters of text costs $20 to translate, which Google estimates works out to about 50 cents per page assuming a page contains 500 words. Currently, there's a 50m character-per-month limit.
Google's translation technology powers a number of consumer-facing Google products, including Google Translate and Translator Toolkit. It also powers the company's Gmail and Chrome translation functionality.
While no translation technology is perfect, Google's is pretty good much of the time and as such, it's safe to say there are many applications for which the Translate API will be attractive to developers and businesses.
Of course, companies should keep in mind that translation is as much art as it is science, and it's only one part of the localization process.
For obvious reasons, there's little room for error when it comes to marketing copy, legal agreements, etc., and therefore the Google Translate API should not be relied upon as a one-size-fits-all, always-guaranteed-to-be-perfect translation solution.
Instead, in these cases, automated solutions can be used as a starting point for professional translation performed by a skilled human translator who is familiar with the language and culture of the targeted region.