Many of us have had comical experiences with Google Translate. For example a children’s book title 紅屁股小偷事件, Google translates to “Red Ass Thief Event”. According to Google Trends, the word “ass” is twice as popular as “butt”. That could factor into the software’s selection of words it uses for translations. One can only guess their algorithm! Despite the drawback, Google Translate is a valuable resource. I think this tool is useful for people that can at least understand a little Chinese and spot the errors in the translation.
I choose Google Translate over similar tools because of convenience. Google’s web browser, Chrome has the translation tool built in. You can quickly translate a website in one click! Firefox users, you can also access this tool by adding an extension.
It’s not so great at translating paragraphs or complicated phrases, but helpful to translate website navigation.
My Favorite Feature: Voice Input
Google Translate’s most useful feature for me is the voice input tool. I can speak Mandarin, but I don’t know enough characters to type in Chinese. Using voice input, I can speak directly into my phone or computer and the Chinese characters are presented on screen. After making sure they are the correct characters, I can copy them to a document, web search, etc.
Camera Scan Translate
My kids love to read but not all of the books have Pinyin or Zhuyin. Using the Google Translate app on my mobile phone, I can scan the Chinese Characters and playback the audio in Chinese. It is time consuming and not ideal but still better than noting!
Sure Google Translate makes mistakes, but overall it’s a helpful technology and it’s free and easy to use. It’s currently the most powerful website translation tool. If you are searching for a better mobile app, Pleco is great but not all features are free.
What’s your favorite translation tool? Please share!