Choosing Your Website Translation: Mechanic or Automatic?

The decision to translate your website into multiple languages is pretty much a no-brainer these days. With globalization and the expansion of Internet access, your local audience isn’t the only demographic you have to worry about anymore.

There are two main ways of translating a website. You can either use mechanical or automatic translation, or you can have a professional do it. So, how do you decide which route to take?

For starters, mechanical or automatic translation is great when you have a massive amount of content to translate or when the content is constantly changing. Automatic translation will save you a lot of time and money because it’s based off a learning engine as opposed to an actual person. Automatic translation services like Google Translate draw from a vast bank of translated documents that the program literally learns from. Google’s free service is also great because it lets you edit the translation, which it then adds to its bank for future reference and consideration. Covalent Logic’s own CMS translator also has the ability to learn from manual edits, which act as the standard for phrases once input. Whether that strikes you as kind of creepy or super cool, it’s undeniably really useful.

When using automatic translation, it’s important to label it as so because mistakes do happen. It’s also important to consider the treatment and presentation of the language you’re translating to. For instance, if you’re translating from English to Arabic, you should consider that Arabic runs from right to left and implement this directional change into the formatting.
Human translation comes in handy for “evergreen” or static content, such as a company’s description. It’s also extremely beneficial for legal documents. Professional translators are going to be generally more accurate than automatic translation because they can look at the context of the words, like with idioms.

When using a professional translator, opt for someone local. All languages have different dialects, so simply saying you need to translate your website into English or Spanish doesn’t really cut it. Is your audience in Australia or England? What about Colombia or Spain? Choosing a local translator or someone with expertise in the targeted area’s language will ensure a more accurate and useful translation.
Clearly, both automatic and professional translations have their benefits, and it’s possible that you may end up using both on your site. Whatever your content calls for, you can be sure that once translated, new audiences will now be able to access to your company’s services, bringing in new opportunities and more business.

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