Online automated translators may be fairly accurate for translating languages of similar origin, but the line stops there. Certainly most of you are familiar with online translators such as Babel fish. However, from what I have read, it seems that quite a few people think that these automated translators do the perfect job. In some cases this is almost true…

Languages of similar origin usually follow the same sentence structure (Romance languages for example), and with Babel Fish you will be able to get a fairly good cross language translation. And by this I mean you will still have to go back over the translated piece and re-write it into the proper grammatical form.

It is when you try and use automated translators to Translate to English translate languages of different origins where you can get into trouble. Being a native English speaker and working in Japan for a translation company, I often (just for a laugh) copy and paste a Japanese sentence onto such automated translators and then have them translated into English. It truly is a scary thought to think that people actually believe this will yield a true cross language translation to any degree.

First of all, most English speaking countries use an ISO character set which is only capable of reading and viewing languages that use the alphabet. When you are able to find a Chinese, Japanese, or Korean web site you may be surprised to know that those smiley faces and other jargon are actually not part of their written language. To view these languages properly you will have to change your computers character code.

The other huge problem with online dictionaries and languages of different origin is the fact that while, for example, English use the SVO (Subject-Verb-Object) system the Japanese language use the Subject-Object-Verb word order. The Japanese language also only uses two types of tenses. The present tense in Japanese is both the simple present tense as well as the future tense, while the past tense in Japanese acts as the simple past tense. This gives online translators a huge disadvantage as opposed to their human counterparts.

If you would like to see an automated online translator’s idea of Japanese to English translation I have set up an example on my web page found at [] You should be able to see the actual Japanese character as they should be viewed because I set up the sentence as a gif photo. Below the photo you will see how Babel Fish had translated the sentence and then how a human had translated it.

Scott Brady