Paid Professional Translation or Free Online Translators-Which is Right for You?

When my stepdaughter came to live with us, she had a real challenge entering the English school system and for the first few months her teacher translated her exams online using free programs. Because such programs translate very literally, using them often results in nonsense phrases and really isn’t an effective way to translate a test paper.

dictionaryIt can be hard sometimes to decide whether you should pay for professional translation or whether you can make do with a free online program. As a general rule, exams, legal documents and business paperwork should be translated by a professional. Conversations, short phrases and single words can be translated by a free online translating program.

The important thing to remember is that no free program is going to be able to accurately translate an entire document, essay or website page because a computer program doesn’t have the ability to use the context of surrounding words to determine a word’s meaning. So if you’re looking for Spanish translation for your website to make it more accessible to your readers or you want your blog campaign proposal translated to French to present to a Quebec-based company, you should be shelling out the cash for a proper translation.

Exams are just one of the instances in which proper translation has been important for our family. When my husband has any formal communication with businesses in Quebec, the paperwork is inevitably prepared in English and the translation to French has to be absolutely perfect. When I’m just chatting with his French family members, informal translation is fine.

A professional translation service may not be something that everyone needs, but living in Canada means that the chances are good those of us who aren’t bilingual will need something translated at some point! However, there’s no need to pay out a bunch of money right away. First think about why you need the translation and how accurate you need it to be and then make your decision. No matter what method is best for your needs, there are many great translation options available!
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