The TAUS take on Google Translation Center

Google translation center

The post I wrote on the Google Translation Center has been the most-visited page on this blog over the past month. Clearly, Google has struck a nerve in the translation industry — and its service is not even live yet.

The Translation Automation User Society does not appear to be as welcoming as I am of the Google Translation Center. A new essay on its site says:

Private companies will always seek world domination and customer lock-in. As a professional in the translation industry, the Google Translation Centre may help you on the short-term, but you only help Google long-term and you don’t help the world at all. Ultimately we pay the price for putting all translated words and sentences in the possession of a single company.

There is a distinct “evil empire” tone to this essay, which is understandable to a point. Google appears to be entering that evil empire stage of its development. Though I still use the search engine.

And the last I checked, Google’s “terms and services” page for the Translation Center had been taken down. So I can’t really say what Google’s policy will be regarding the translation memory (TM) that it may or may not leverage from this Center.

But it is no coincidence that TAUS is planning to develop a massive database of TMs of its own. I’m sure it wants readers to come away thinking that TAUS is going to be far more open with its TMs than Google will be.

TAUS says that its TM database will be free to the world for the looking up of translations of terms and phrases. But you’ll have to be a member to actually have access to the database (on a reciprocal basis) and membership is not free. I’m confident that this database will be of the highest quality as TAUS has some impressive corporate members, such as Intel, Microsoft, and Oracle (Google does not appear to be a member).

Personally, I’m glad to see both services emerging — as well as services from Asia Online and Language Weaver (which is now offering a Web-based SaaS translation service). We are entering uncharted waters and it’s important to have a mix of large and small players, as well as a nonprofit, to keep everyone on their toes.

Is there a risk to the world if Google owns the world’s largest TM (which it might have already accomplished)?


TAUS raises important questions. The answers have yet to emerge.

Watch out ProZ, here comes Google Translation Center

Within the translation industry, ProZ is widely known as the leading public network of freelance translators and buyers of translation services.

But here comes Google…

According to Blogoscoped, Google is about to launch the Google Translation Center.

This is an exciting development, though I don’t expect everyone to suddenly ditch ProZ for Google. Why? Because much of the appeal of ProZ is the community, which Google does not appear to be trying to support. Still, freelancers will certainly want to investigate this potential new resource.

I’ve called out ProZ as one company under threat from Google Translation Center. But EVERY translation agency needs to keep a close eye on this service. It could be a threat. It could also end up being something translation agencies use themselves — instead of paid platforms from SDL. Naturally, for this to happen this new platform has a lot of evolving to do. Still, I can’t help but wonder.

There is no mention of whether or not Google will support machine translation and/or translation memory. I’m assuming they will.

I have LOTS of questions and this service isn’t even live yet. So we shall see what happens. But this is big news, no question.

I wrote awhile back, that the translation industry as we know it is over. The technologists have taken over and they’re bringing brute force computing and massive networks to the table to reduce costs and increase time to market. This is just another sign of this macro trend.

What do you think? Is Google going to disrupt the translation industry or is this new platform going to fall flat?

(Thx Chris for the heads up!)

Update: I just read an insightful article on this Google’s service at GigaOm…

Google Translate is growing up

What began as just another “gisting” application — like Babel Fish — is gradually becoming an impressive translation tool. And I’m not referring to the quality of translation, though that is improving as well.

I’m referring to the breadth of languages and breadth of features that Google Translate supports.

Today, Google announced that Google Translate added support for ten more languages, bringing the total to 23. The ten new languages are Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Finnish, Hindi, Norwegian, Polish, Romanian and Swedish.

And that’s not all!

Google Translate also now provides a detect language tool that will tell what language a batch of text is in. This type of tool can come in awfully handy for people like me who navigate across so many languages on a daily basis. It’s an easy feature for Google to support because the translation engine needs to know what the source language is before translating it. But I also tested language detect on a few languages not yet supported for translation, such as Slovakian, and the engine correctly identified them.

A week ago, I integrated Google Translate into the home page of Byte Level:

Google Translate on Byte Level Research

When it comes to translation, I’m not a good example of “putting my money where my mouth is.” Byte Level Research, with the exception of the Tower of Babel site, has been available only in English for years.

While I have no illusions that this widget will make up for a lack of professionally translated text, I am curious to see if people use it and to what extent. What I need to know is if Google Analytics can track Google Translate widget usage so I can know which languages are most popular. If anyone knows how to set this up, please contact me.

And, if nothing else, it’s an interesting experiment — and it buys me time before having to shell out real money for professional translation, which I will ultimately need to do.