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Written by Traduality

Traduality helps organizations protect and get closer to its customers, employees, and partners in their native language.

November 21, 2022

Professional Translation Services vs Google Translation Hub: What’s Better?

For brands that have a diverse audience, professional translation is a necessary step when trying to connect with customers and increase brand engagement. Google recently launched its Google Translation Hub, which can translate full documents electronically. 

Those at Google may be claiming that machine translation is more efficient, consistent, and good enough to replace human translation services, but this isn’t the case. AI-driven translations cannot act as a stand-in for all of a business’s translation needs.

Machine translation has been around for a while, and though services like Google’s can be good secondary tools, they don’t match the skill and attention of a professional translator.

There is a range of benefits to both Google’s Translation Hub and professional translation services. Which is best for your business? Keep reading to learn more about the key features of each and which option you should invest in for your specific translation needs. 

Why You Need Translation Services

Translation services involve translating documents or other content from one language to another to better appeal to customers who speak different languages and are parts of different cultures. 

Sometimes translation is 100% required. For companies in medical or government industries, it’s important that distributed information is translated into relevant languages so it is accessible to the people who need to read it. In other contexts, translation is not necessarily required but is an important part of making a business accessible to customers, avoiding risk in the workplace, or even increasing the commercial reach of a product. 

Investing in translation services shows customers that you appreciate their support of your brand. This is especially true if your business has a diverse customer base—getting your documents and other content translated helps make customers feel like they’re included and a part of your community.

Translating documents can also increase engagement for your brand. It’s hard for your audience to interact with your content if they can’t understand it. If large parts of your audience speak different languages, translation services will be an important part of your marketing strategy.

You may need to translate content into multiple other languages, and it’s important to invest in quality translations that will reflect well on your business.

What Is Google Translation Hub?

In early October, Google launched a new tool called Google Translation Hub. This online service uses machine translation to translate full documents, emails, and other content into different languages. Google advertises the translation hub as a self-serve service with the capability to translate a large number of documents for organizations or businesses. 

Users can choose between a basic and premium plan, which differ in pricing and features offered. 

  • The basic plan offers translations for PDF and DOCX documents, translation templates, and supports over 100 languages for translation. 
  • The advanced plan includes these features, but also offers assistance with translation memory and post-editing, as well as other advanced features. 

Users pay $0.15 per page translated with the basic plan and $0.50 with the advanced plan.

While the Google Translation Hub is an impressive development from their previous translation services, machine translation is not new. 

There are some significant differences between machine translation and human translation. It’s important to understand the unique features and benefits of both Google Translation Hub and professional human translation services to determine which is more fitting for a particular situation. Here are some of the key features and benefits of Google Translation Hub.

Benefit: Quicker and Cheaper

Using a machine translation tool, like Google Translate Hub, tends to be quicker and cheaper than translation by a human translator. Machines have the ability to translate content much faster than a human can, which is a big part of machine translation’s appeal for a lot of people.

However, it’s important to remember that quicker translation does not necessarily mean it will have the same standards of accuracy, creativity, or nuance as a translation that takes longer.

Additionally, without hiring translators for any extra editing help, machine translation is usually significantly cheaper than human translation. Because you’re paying to use software and not for a real person’s time, machine translation is often the cheaper option. 

However, sometimes machine translation will still require you to hire a human translator to organize and optimize the final content, depending on what it’s being used for. This can make machine translation just as—if not more—expensive, depending on the original quality of the translation and your final quality requirements.

Benefit: Translation Memory

Translation memory is tracked differently when using machine translation than when working with a human translator. Translation memory refers to the “storage” of commonly used words and phrases that have been translated in the past for reuse in current documents. 

Google promotes its translation memory as a benefit because it is stored within the cloud. Human translators must often internalize translation memory or keep a database updated to track it, which can be problematic if key translators leave their company or stop working with an organization. 

Arguably, Google Translation Hub makes it easier to keep track of translation memory by having a record of translation memory stored in the cloud. However, you will need to be using the advanced version of this tool to gain access to translation memory support.

Disadvantage: Over-Simplified

One of the biggest downsides to Google Translation Hub is that the translation is inherently oversimplified, as one might expect from machine translation. Though accurate, specific, and to the point, machine translation is naturally robotic and doesn’t allow for a lot of creativity. 

This could be a problem, especially if an organization is trying to ensure that its tone and message will carry over to its translated documents (for example, when a company is trying to localize its content).

Furthermore, Google Translation Hub provides only a basic translation of words from one language to another. The machine behind this translation does not have the same editing and composition skills that a trained professional translator will have. Even if you use this service, you still may need to hire a translator to organize, review, and personalize the final content for your brand’s use of it. This can impact the overall price of your translation.

What Are Professional Translation Services?

Professional translation services are what you would traditionally think of when you think of translation. This is when human translators work to manually translate documents for the audience of an organization or business. Rather than using a machine, translators use their language knowledge and translation skills to translate content into different languages.

In some ways, it may seem like professional translation is less convenient than machine translation. While this may be true in some situations, there are also significant differences in quality between these two types of translation that can make it easy to determine the better choice.

Benefit: Higher-Quality

The most significant benefit of using human translation services is the quality; human translation is unparalleled by machine translation. While technology can do amazing things today, it still makes mistakes, and it still isn’t able to understand nuance, tone, and intention the way humans do.  

Additionally, you may be more likely to see mistakes in machine translation than in human translation. Human translators can go over their work and identify mistakes that a machine may miss. 

For instance, professional translators can identify places where sentences could be worded better to make more sense in the target language, or where there are readability issues in the text. AI can do a lot of things, but it doesn’t yet have the ability to make sentient decisions about these things the way humans can.

Overall, human translation is undoubtedly a better-quality translation. While machine translation can be a good supporting tool, its quality does not match that of a professional translator’s work.

Disadvantage: More Turnaround Time and More Expensive

Professional translation does require more turnaround time and is typically more expensive than machine translation. Human translators require more time to translate documents and will likely have higher rates as compensation for their time and work. However, in many contexts, this is well worth it for better quality translation.

These obstacles can also be offset by maintaining a schedule of projects that require translation and their deadlines. Creating a realistic translation budget can also help your business plan for the costs of quality translation.

Benefit: Skilled Translators

Trained human translators have skills that cannot be matched by machines. As mentioned, organizations that use machine translation often have to invest in post-editing services to make the content all come together. 

Human translators have the editing and proofreading skills to create finalized content without needing additional review. Sometimes the financial costs of human translation even out with machine translation costs, considering you don’t have to pay for follow-up services with professional translation.

Benefit: Room for Creativity

With human translation, there is more potential for content to be personalized for your organization’s intentions, tone, and messaging. Because of the relative simplicity of machine translation, it can often come off as robotic and impersonal. This can make it difficult for companies to make connections with their customers and convey the intended feelings in translated documents.

Professional translators have the ability to carry your tone into translated documents so that your materials are more effective and can better engage readers who speak different languages. This is a crucial point when it comes to creative content, like social media content or blog posts. 

Creativity in translated documents is also important in industries where tone can influence meaning. In fields like medicine and legal, sometimes translated information is so straightforward that tone and “feeling” aren’t big factors. However, in human resources, marketing, gaming, and even tech, this is not the case.

Difference Between Google Translation Hub and Professional Translation Services

It’s clear that there are different benefits and focuses for Google Translation Hub and professional translation services. 

The positive aspects of Google Translation Hub center on convenience. The focus is on getting businesses translated materials quickly and for the cheapest price. It can also make it easier to store a translation memory. However, the quality of translation is lower and often over-simplified to the point that it comes off as robotic. 

There are some situations in which using the Translation Hub is perfectly acceptable, but in many cases, human eyes are needed to prevent workplace hazards, catch legal blindspots, and ensure commercial content is in line with local audiences.

Understanding When Professional Translation Is Necessary

Using Google Translation Hub may make sense when you need to translate simple, general content like internal emails with foreign employees or basic communications such as company-wide announcements.

As the readership of a document or piece of content grows and the complexity increases, so does the need for professional translation services. Professional translation is ideal for commercial content, legal paperwork, and vital internal documentation like manuals, training content, etc. These are the kinds of documents in which a mistake in translation could create hazards in the workplace.

Even if you elect to use the Translation Hub to translate work contracts and other legal employee paperwork, you should consider hiring a translation company to check the documents for appropriate legal conformity. Mistakes in legal paperwork can cost businesses a great deal of time and money.

Professional translators also have the skills to ensure that any feeling or creative messaging that you want to convey in your materials can be carried over into the target language. This helps you avoid impersonal translation and allows you to make connections with every single person that reads your content, including those that speak other languages. 

Why Professional Translation Usually Comes Out on Top

While both Google Translation Hub and human translation offer unique benefits, professional translation is the clear choice in the majority of situations. Human translation offers high-quality, personalized services that give you more than basic word-for-word translations. 

While Google Translation Hub may be faster and cheaper, the investment in professional translation services is well worth it. 

When thinking about translation services as a part of a company’s marketing plan, it’s important that translated materials make an impact and encourage customers to engage. Naturally, humans are better at communicating with and connecting to other humans than a machine.

Customers and readers should feel valued and welcome as a part of your organization’s audience no matter if they’re reading the original or translated version of something.

Invest in Professional Translation Services

The bottom line is that Google Translation Hub and other machine translation tools can not match the effectiveness of human translators. Professional translation services offer more attention to detail and translation that aligns with the intended tone and purpose of a particular document or piece of content. 

While it does take a bit longer and may be more expensive, the investment is well worth it for higher-quality translations.

Depending on your organization’s needs, Google Translation Hub could be a helpful supporting tool. However, like any machine translation, it is prone to making mistakes of one kind or another, since it is not able to make conscious human decisions. 

Machine translation can also come off as impersonal, which can make it difficult to convey meaning and make connections with readers. Though it may be a less expensive option with quicker turnaround times, this can be counterbalanced with a realistic schedule and budget plan for human translation.

At Traduality, we believe that translation is an important part of success at a business or organization. We offer high-quality and personalized translation services and will pair you with a professional translator that aligns with your unique needs. Once we understand what you’re looking for in your projects, we’ll take it from there! Contact us today and request a quote to invest in the best translation for your business.

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