Google Translate Feature

If you are ever curious about translating languages, you may want to try the Google Translate Feature. You type in text, a webpage URL, or upload a document for Google to translate. This feature works really well especially for being a free feature. A note of caution, though: it’s not always perfect, so a little bit of research and/or cultural understanding can go a long way.

Let’s run a few examples so we can see how the Google Translate feature works.

For the first example, I am going to translate the word “winter” from English into French.

Google Translate Feature Example

Google Translate Feature Example

This is a mostly correct translation. The word for “winter” in French is indeed “hiver”, but one would never say “hiver” without an article (ex: les, le, etc.). The correct way to translate this word would be “l’hiver” which is:

l’(the article) + hiver(word for winter) = l’hiver. So although Google was close, it made a grammatical error by leaving out the article. On the plus side, most french speaking people would know what you are trying to say although it would be obvious that you are not a native speaker. If you were to reverse the process and translate “l’hiver” from French into English, you would see that it translates into “winter” perfectly.

If you notice beneath the space for the translated word there is headline that says “Dictionary – View detailed dictionary”.

View Detailed Dictionary

View Detailed Dictionary

If you click to see the detailed dictionary, more information about the word arises such as synonyms, web definitions, related languages, and more:

Detailed Dictionary Features

Detailed Dictionary Features

This is a handy feature, so be sure to explore it regardless of what words and languages you are translating.

Now for the next example we shall examine how Google Translate Feature addresses issues involving formal tenses.

In many countries, there are two types of verbal protocols: the informal and the formal. The informal is what a person would use to address to someone they are either friendly are familiar with, or are of the same age. The formal is sometimes used when a person is speaking to someone of higher superiority, age, or rank. The formal denotes a tone of respect that the informal does not.

For example, in the Spanish language there is the informal and formal way to address a group of people. The formal conjugation, called the vosotros, would be used if a person is talking to a group of people of higher superiority. The vosotros is not as widely used as it used to be in most spanish speaking countries, although it is still used in Spain.

In this scenario, let’s pretend we want to ask a group of people who have higher superiority or seniority how they are doing. Google Translate has trouble detecting the subtleness of the formal vosotros, so they best way to enter this would be:

Formal Conjugations

Formal Conjugations

This, as far as we have been able to test, is the closest form of vosotros we could find. By adding “sirs” we acknowledged that the group of people that were being addressed had superiority. It’s not perfect but it does translate very well and is close enough to the vosotros to basically become a non-issue (except to the language purists).

For French, which also has the informal and formal, we noticed that if you want formal sentences, type in what you wish to have translated but then put (formal) in parenthesis. For french, the vouz/votre form (which is the formal form) will come into play.

For instance, here is the sentence “what is your name” that I want translated into French. However, I want it to be formal:

Formal Form in French

Formal Form in French

As you can see, the “votre” is the French way of designating “you” formally. Obviously, disregard (formelle), because that literally means “formal”. You want your sentence to translate as ”what is your name/Quel est votre nom” not “what is your name(formal)/Quel est votre nom (formelle). 

If you don’t enter (formal), Google Translate Feature defaults to the informal:

French Informal Translation

French Informal Translation

As you can see, I wanted the exact same sentence translate, but without adding (formal) to my sentence I now have the translation for the informal “you” conjugation, which creates a completely different sentence. 

For longer sentences, the Google Translate feature works rather well. It’s not perfect, but it’s really close. Nothing beats being a native speaker of a language but this tool will get your message across to people of other languages well enough.

It’s also useful to check the the translated features on the side:

Other Google Translate Features

Other Google Translate Features

These enable you to get translations with a single click by adding buttons to your browser’s toolbar. Then whenever you want to translate a webpage you’re viewing, just click the button. You can translate any part of the page by selecting that part before you click, and it’s pretty accurate. Once Again, all of these features are worth exploring once you have your translation.

It might not be 100% correct all the time, but it’s better than most costly translating software AND it’s free! Have fun exploring this translating feature - in the highly globalized e-world, you never know when you are going to need it!

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  • Terrance Dodsworth says:

    Great information :)

  • Jimmy saville says:

    Google Translate is NOT that close with Russian. Maybe in French it is really close, but with Russian you have to know quite a bit of basic Russian to see whether or not Google Translate is talking rubbish or not. Short phrases work much better than sentences.

    The formal/informal thing. I’ve read this elsewhere, but it doesn’t actually work.

  • Ashley says:

    It’s not that close with Hindi or Urdu, either. I think probably it works best with the “Romance Languages”.

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