Google Translate vs Localization: Differences, Benefits, and Drawbacks
If you've ever needed to translate a document from English into another language, you know how important it is to get the translation right. After all, if your message isn't understood by its intended audience, chances are you'll lose an opportunity at some kind of business deal or even an entire market segment. For that reason alone, it makes sense to have your documents professionally translated by native speakers in the target language—but what about when you need something less formal? What if you just want a quick way of reading a website or blog post in another language? In these cases, machine translation can be helpful. But while machine translation has grown more accurate over time (thanks in large part to machine learning), it still can't match the quality and nuance of human translations produced by professional translators with years of experience working with both languages involved in any given project.
What Is Google Translate?
Google Translate is merely using Google to translate words in your project or website into another language. Localization is adjusting a website or project to accommodate every culture you are addressing. This can involve modifying content and tone and other site elements to align with a potential customer’s cultural preferences. Localization is a much more involved process that can have an extensive impact on your site or project. (Lionbridge.com and Sans.org)
What Is Localization?
The term “localization” refers to the process of adapting a product or service to a certain region or language. Localization is also used synonymously with the term “internationalization,” but it's actually not the same thing. Internationalization (also known as i18n) is the set of techniques that allow software developers to enable their applications for use in multiple languages and regions. This can include things like changing text strings, formatting numbers and dates, handling currencies and other units of measurement, rendering text in different scripts (like Arabic or Chinese), enabling right-to-left reading order for languages such as Hebrew and Arabic—the list goes on!
In contrast to internationalization which focuses on making your code available in other languages/regions, localization focuses on translating content into specific languages/regions so that it reads naturally in those contexts. Localizing websites involves translating entire web pages as well as adding content targeted specifically at users from each region/language (i.e., adding currency conversion functionality when selling products globally).
How Does Google Translate Work?
Google Translate is a free online translation tool that uses machine translation to convert text from one language into another. It offers a variety of translation options, including speech recognition, handwriting conversion, and visual character recognition.
Google Translate can be used in many ways: by typing or pasting content into the website; by taking a picture of text with your smartphone camera; by speaking into your smartphone microphone (voice input); or even through mobile apps on your phone.
Google Translate was initially based on statistical machine translation. Using millions of official United Nations and European Parliament transcripts, the software translated the text into English as an intermediate step language, before translating it into the target language.
In November 2016 Google Translate switched to a neural machine translation engine that translates whole sentences at a time rather than word by word. It uses a broader context to figure out the most relevant translation and adjusts it to approximate a human speaking applying proper grammar. (Wikipedia.com)
Google Translate has become the internet’s go-to resource for quick translations from one language to another It was launched in April 2006 and now has more than 500 million users daily worldwide, supporting 133 languages as of October 2022.
How Does Localization Work?
Localization is a key part of the product development process. It's not just translation, it also includes cultural adaptation, legal compliance, and technical issues.
A good example of this is a mobile app that needs to be localized for multiple languages and countries. The developer must first take into account how each language uses its word order, which can be very different from English. To determine how to display strings in the app, they might use Google Translate because it's fast and easy—but then they'll need to go back and make sure everything looks right when it's translated into another language (and possibly other languages).
Website localization is the process of adapting your website content to appeal to a particular target market. It goes beyond just translating the text—it also covers transforming imagery, tone, colors, units of measurement, and more. The value in localizing your website content is that it ensures that it is culturally appropriate for your target audience, making it more appealing and user-friendly. Localized content creates culturally relevant and appealing content that provides an ideal online brand experience for the customers you are targeting. This improves both the strength of your brand and your conversion rate. (biglanguage.com)
The bottom line…
The bottom line is that even the best machine translation is no substitute for professional human translation and localization.
Localization is more than just translation; it’s about cultural adaptation and accommodation, ensuring the message is effective, and making sure your website or app is culturally appropriate.
If you're looking for a quick and easy solution to translate your website or app into multiple languages, then Google Translate may be what you need. However, if you want something more tailored to your target audience, localization of your website is the way to go. If this sounds like something that could help your business grow internationally, then contact The SilverLogic today and see what we can do to help!