Putting Free Text Translations to the Test

Emanuel Longo | March 9, 2010

Do you ever wonder which free translation site to use for basic things like correspondence or small phrases? Most people have neither the desire nor the time to run their content through multiple sites to validate the results. Thankfully, The New York Times has already done some of the hard work for you. They recently took Google’s new automated translation service, Systran’s Yahoo Babel Fish and Microsoft’s Bing Translator for a test drive.

They took small pieces of text in French, Spanish, Russian, German, and Arabic and compared the results from the three website translators against an actual human translator.

Although this testing methodology is not completely fool-proof, it does provide some interesting data. It appears that certain systems may be more effective for certain languages. For example, all of the systems easily translated French and Spanish and certain systems had trouble with German and Russian. However, some systems failed to offer an Arabic translation altogether.

As far as we can tell, it looks like Google comes out ahead in overall accuracy. Give it a try and decide for yourself.

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