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Google Translate or Professional translation service

For years there has been a debate about whether Google Translate is a reliable tool to use when translating long form text. Some people think it’s an effective and quick way to translate a document, while others believe that it should be used as a last resort because the quality of the translation is poor.

Google Translate is a powerful tool for basic translations, but it is a far cry from the quality of a professional translation service. The accuracy and nuances lost when using Google Translate can cause confusion, especially when a document contains technical jargon or specialised language. A personal translation service, on the other hand, will ensure that your translated document is accurate and credible.

In this blog post, we’ll explore Google Translate in comparison with the services offered by personal translators.  We’ll highlight the differences, and give examples of when to avoid using it all together.

What is Google Translate?

Google Translate is a free service that can translate words and phrases from one language to another. The facility is available online and is free of charge. The application allows you to translate typed and handwritten text, photos, and audio in over 100 languages. It is available as a mobile app for both Android and Apple devices. You can also use Google Translate on the web.

How does it work?

Google Translate is a multilingual neural machine translation service developed by Google to translate text, documents, images, audio and websites from one language into another. As of October 2021, Google Translate supports 109 languages at various levels and has over 500 million users.  The application translates in the region of 100 billion words daily.

Instead of translating languages directly from one to the other, it starts by converting the text into English and then changes it to the target language.

During a translation the application looks for patterns in millions of documents to help decide on the correct word choice.  It then selects the most common arrangement identified for the target language. The application has evolved over the past 5 years and now, with the help of Artificial Intelligence translates whole sentences at a time, rather than one word at a time. A broader context of the phrase can then help the machine figure out the most relevant translation.  

What is a personal translation service?

This is an in-person language service. The translator is proficient in both languages and often trained in the art of linguistics.     

Professional translation companies also provide certified translations that are helpful when immigrating to a country, working or studying overseas, or doing business on a global scale. Companies often use personal translation services as a way to reach international audiences better.  

Pros and cons of using a translation service vs. Google Translate

Google Translate and in-person translation services have their own advantages and drawbacks. Depending on your requirements, one may outweigh the other. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of Google Translate vs using an in-person translation services.

Google Translate


It offers a wide variety of languages to choose from. Google Translate provides translations for over 100 languages, which is more than most in-person translation services.
It is free of charge and when compared to other free translation applications, it is the most accurate.

Google Translate is quick.  An experienced translator can translate approximately 300-400 words per hour, depending on the difficulty of the text. Google Translate can produce a translation of the same amount of text in only a few seconds.  

Google Translate is also easy to use and accessible to all. It’s like having a personal interpreter in your pocket, making it an easy and convenient way to connect with people, places and cultures across language barriers. . The app works even when you are not connected to the internet so it can be used at any time, in any place.


The tool is not always accurate and mistakes are common, especially with grammar, structure, and context.

Meaning can be lost because the Artificial Intelligence (AI) cannot interpret context. The complexity of the text, as well as any background information, cannot be interpreted without a true knowledge of the culture, nuances and tone associated with the text.

Google Translate is known for direct translation resulting in nonsensical literal translations. The tool cannot translate idioms and other non-literal phrases. It also falls short in maintaining the correct tone and formality.

The quality of the translation depends on the language pair. Google’s Translate app is built on a web-based language database, constructed from existing online translations. Thus, translations for common languages tend to be more accurate, while translations for minor languages that have a small language databases are less likely to be accurate.

The tool has no quality control. The translations produced by the tool is not proofread, and there is no way to report errors to avoid having them repeated.

Professional translation service


Personal translation services are the key to accuracy. Trained translators will interpret the content correctly. They know the languages and the culture, therefor they understand things like context, metaphors, slogans, idioms, and language nuances. The information with its intended message and tone will be carried across so that the other culture can understand it.

Professional translation agencies do quality control. All translation services have procedures in place to check text after translation is completed. All aspects of the text, such as grammar, context, syntax, and overall linguistic understanding, are evaluated and edited where required.

Most importantly, humans understand humans. Using a human translator will ensure that the overall text is converted so that the message carried across is clear and logical. Human translators also choose more appropriate wording that a machine translation will not be able to pick up.


As translators are trained professionals they charge a fee for the work they do, if you have a limited budget this could be a barrier.

The turnaround time is longer.  Ensuring high quality translations can take some time.  If you’re working to a very tight deadline, it might not be possible for a translation agency to meet your demands. Most agencies will do their best to accommodate you but always remember to plan ahead.

When to use Google Translate vs an in-person translation service?

As discussed earlier, Google Translate and professional translation services have their pros and cons.   Deciding on which one to use comes down to the purpose and complexity of the content.

It’s important to know what type of translation you require before hiring an agency or contractor. There are many different types of translations and each have their own requirements. Legal documents will require the services of a registered, certified translator with the correct credentials.  Academic translations require someone who has knowledge of citations and document formatting as well as language proficiency.  When translating technical or industry specific documents, the translator will need to understand the topic and related jargon to accurately translate the text. 

Google Translate offers an easy way to convert text from one language into another, but it does not provide the best translation experience for all languages. Google Translate is a useful tool for informal, on-the-spot translations. When you’re away on holiday or stuck on a phase in a French class, this tool will be your go-to. The tool is great for quick translations that do not need to be perfect. If you need to quickly figure out what something means, Google Translate will give you a general understanding of the text.

Here are a few scenarios on where to use Google Translate vs Translation Services:

  • Words and short sentences (Google Translate)

  • E-mail conversations (Google Translate)

  • Legal documents like immigration documents (Translation Services)

  • Academic papers you wish to publish (Translation Services)

If you’re still unsure what kind of translation service is right for you, contact DMME for a free quote and consultation.

Concluding thoughts

Google Translate is a popular translation service used by many to translate text documents because of its free and quick. However, language can be tricky, and machine translators just cannot fully comprehend all the nuances and context of longer texts. 

There’s no denying that Google Translate is a useful communication tool. But its faults lead to inaccuracy, misunderstanding and can even cause offence. It is clear that human translation is still the better and more accurate choice to go with.

For all your translation needs, contact us today for more information!


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