Google Translate (1 of 2)*

Google Translate and other online translation tools: For or against?

Can you use Google Translate to translate a text? The answer depends on the context, as is always the case for such broad questions.

First and foremost, it might be good to know that online translation tools, including Google Translate (GT), are not actually translating at all! GT aligns sentences and phrases that have already been translated by other people —not necessarily translators—or other machines. The quality of your results therefore depends on the quality of the translations it is cribbing from.

Some translators use Google Translate for their “first draft”, which they then edit offline. Although GT can be useful sometimes, our team members do not use it professionally, for one simple reason: to keep your information confidential. We are certified translators so, like any member of a Quebec professional order, we are not allowed to share the information entrusted to us in our professional capacity with anyone else. Like your doctor, lawyer and accountant, we are bound by the rules of professional secrecy. Google Translate is a public tool which anyone can access. Everything that you translate using that online tool is stored for use by somebody else. Even worse, if I were to use GT to produce a draft translation, Google would save that version of the text.

For translation professionals, the answer to this question is self-evident. Until you decide to make your information public, we must respect your decision and avoid sharing it.

And what about the translation functions offered by search engines? That is a discussion for another day. Keep your eyes open and visit us again soon!

*Text translated by Alison Newall