Google Translate – friend or foe?

You might assume that those of us in the translation business consider Google Translate as the enemy. Perhaps some do, but we don’t. There’s no denying that Google Translate does have its advantages and we think you should make use of them. Conversely, however, Google Translate also has some obvious disadvantages, and we’d like you to watch out for these. As is always the case, it’s an excellent idea to know your friends well - so you know exactly when you can count on them!

Google Translate Dimas Danardana
Photo: dimas danardana

Google Translate is a free translation tool, with the sole requirement being an internet connection. It couldn’t be easier. You’ve probably at some time made use of the ”machinery” and smiled at the funny and often ratherunfortunate translation suggestions that have gone viral - or perhaps have even experienced it on your own screen. At the same time you’ve also more than likely experienced that Google Translate was your ”friend in need”,when on a busy day you needed to quickly understand a piece text in a foreign language you didn’t have a strong grasp of strong, or you just lacked the right word in an email you were writing in a foreign language.

We’ll guide you through with a brief outline of advantages and disadvantages.


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  • Google Translate is free and online 24/7..
  • Google Translate is fast – it provides you with a translation in less than 1 second.
  • Google Translate bases its logic on human translation. The logic is not rule-based and the translation is formed from already translated texts online.The machine is continuously evolving and hopefully will become bigger and better.


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  • Google Translate offers no confidentiality. Everything translated through Google Translate is kept by Google, meaning there’s always the risk that it could end up in the wrong hands.
  • Google Translate offers a ”rough”translation.. In reality, it’s not actually a translation at all, but just a scanning of related documents, websites etc. And based on this material, the programme generates a suggested text. This explains why you can also experience incorrect content or structure in Google’s suggested translation.
  • Google Translate offers no form of quality control or adaption of the text to specific jargon, layout, industry or market. Basically you can never be sure that the material the machine spits out is correct or way off mark.

We recommend:

  • ONLY use Google Translate if your content is not of a confidential nature.
  • Use Google Translate if you need help for some general text comprehension.
  • Use Google Translate if you need help writing mails etc.