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There, I’ve said them. The dirty words of the translation world.Google Translate A bit like the bogeyman, I constantly hear dire warnings about the awful things that will happen to you if you go anywhere near GT. It looks like very few translators use it (or, more likely will admit to it) and I’ve only ever heard one person say they found it useful. What are they all doing?

There are, perhaps, legitimate reasons not to use it. Confidentiality of the source document seems to be top of the list, as Google claims ownership of whatever you feed it. In theory, it’s a valid point, but I’m not sure how anyone is ever going to find out that the VW car manual you translated was once fed into the Googlemuncher. Unless, of course you’re stupid enough to use the raw Googlish that gets piped out the other end. In which case you deserve all you get.

Although the output of Google Translate needs to be used intelligently, I see one overriding reason to use it. Translating involves a hell of a lot of typing. If your source document is 6,000 words long, at the end of the day, you’re going to have to produce a translation consisting of another 6,000 of your own words. That’s a lot of typing. I can touch type, but it would be a big effort for me to type 6,000 words (I’m not sure I’ve ever done it). It’s so much easier to copy ‘n’ paste into/out of GT and, abracadabra, I have my 6,000 words. They’ll be far from perfect, but now I only need to edit them against the original, rather than type them all out. Editing is fun and interesting, typing is not.

What am I missing? Why doesn’t everyone do it?

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