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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.

Patricio Robles

Published 25 August, 2011 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

2380 more posts from this author

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Gaelle Callnin

Actually, being in the business of providing translation & adaptation services to the marketing sector, I would disagree with the statement that "automated solutions can be used as a starting point for professional translation."

Google Translate (free or paid) certainly has a place for low-value needs such as getting a gist of an article, understanding social media channels (tweets, IMs, etc), or as a replacement for large volumes that would be otherwise so time- or cost-prohibitive to translate professionally that it's 'better than nothing'. But trying to turn "bad" into "good" is a deterrent for any professional actually trying to localize or adapt marketing copy to another language and culture.

almost 5 years ago

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Wholesale Directory

Hi,
I was expecting the same thing from Google. Google is now a days trying to bring a great change in technology field as it updated Google+ and than add one....it is good for new entrants that Google is updating API program. It will be easy for new users to understand the technology and language of Googly if they focus and understand this program that Google has launched. It`s really a good translator that helps to convert almost 50+ languages in a one simple language for users ease. I appreciate you on this writing as you described it so beautifully Patricio.

almost 5 years ago

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Steve

Machine translation is a useful starting point as the article says but too many companies are relying on it alone.

almost 5 years ago

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sknob

I'm a professional tanslator and localizer, and I charge 50% MORE when I have to start from machine translation instead of starting from scratch.

When I start from scratch, my trained translator's brain does it's thing. When I start from MT, the bad translation messes with my translator's brain, and it takes me longer to get a decent translation.

MT will get a few things right ("Click OK"), but chances are those strings are already in my Translation Memory.

I suggest that any business that is thinking of using MT should think twice, and start by translating some Foreign text into their native language, and imagine what their clients would think if they had to read something similar...

almost 5 years ago

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Dave Upton

Are there free alternative to Google Translate?

almost 5 years ago

Vincent Amari

Vincent Amari, Online Consultancy at Business Foresights Ltd

I find it strange they've put a monthly limit on a paid service!

almost 5 years ago

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