Google continues to add new translation tools to it canon of services. The latest is a transliteration tool that allows you to type words phonetically, which helps when you can’t find letters and characters on your keyboard. Google has made a good attempt at this, using a tool which is available in Google Labs.
The update also provides dictionary lookup and character-by-character composition, so you can make sure you’re getting the word you want. Currently they have 17 languages available for this service with more to come I guess.
Google has also added one-click translation to its Sites product. Google Sites allows you to create web pages if you have no web skills; it now also allows you to translate your site with the integration of the Google Translate Element.
You’ve got hand it to Google really – making life so easy for people to communicate in their own language is one of the greatest things you can do. The worrying thing from a language point of view is that because these services rely totally on machine translation, the quality of the translations will be very debatable. Add to this the fact that it’s free and provided by Google, and you can bet that some organisations who need translation will use these tools and come to depend on them.
On the other hand, as more people use these and come to rely on them, they’ll begin to notice that the quality isn’t as good as professional human translation where the context and detail of a document are understood. This should get more of them to look for professional linguists, which can only be good for the industry in the long run.