Google Translation Center

In his Tool Kit, Jost Zetzsche mentions the arrival of the Google Translation Center. This is only the cache version as apparently, it was "accidentally" released by Google, who took it offline when it was spotted by Google Blogoscoped.
It’s an interesting concept, which freelance translators can benefit from, and which already exists out there, although the mighty Google will immediately attract a much wider public than the existing translation marketplaces. Also, I wonder what king of "shared, innovative, translation technology" they’ll be offering. What immediately annoyed me, however, is that anyone at all will be able to sign up to provide translations, which reinforces the dangerous idea that anyone can be a translator; and the audience is certain to be huge.

By | 2016-10-18T15:49:26+00:00 August 8th, 2008|Culture|7 Comments

About the Author:

I am Céline Graciet, a freelance English to French translator. Since 2003 I’ve been writing on all sorts of areas linked to translation and the life of a translator.


  1. Bénédicte August 8, 2008 at 3:49 pm

    Unfortunately, lots of people think they can provide translations just because they know (pretty good or not) a foreign language… Besides, I met so many people who consider “strange” or “useless” the concept of translation studies!

  2. Amir August 9, 2008 at 4:32 pm

    I’ve seen a mini-storm of posts about this.
    People are speculating what Google can get out of this. Google offers a ton of free services, but always makes money from them.
    The general consensus is that Google is trying to enrich their machine translation and make it perfect.
    I think that Google just wants to see a lot more quality non-English pages in the web. Then, they can sell more ads – as simple as this. As a side effect, they’ll also improve many other things, but their business is selling ad space.
    How this would affect the translation business, I don’t know. I hope it doesn’t run over it…

  3. Ius August 16, 2008 at 7:34 pm

    Personally I think that there are different translation markets, sure Google will damage Proz, but never will kill the human translation business.

  4. Anonymous August 30, 2008 at 1:46 pm

    From what I read and heard Google Translation Center will disgruntle everybody. It is a direct competitor of translation agencies and translation marketplaces such as It will probably compete against TM systems as well. As for translators, it will accentuate the downward spiral of prices, increasing the supply of cheap and even free (!!) translations. In the long term, the prospects are even bleaker. They seem to promote a Creative Commons License approach so that they can use the pooled translation segments to create the “Universal Translator”. This goal would be attained sooner rather than later, considering the number of participants they can attract. I believe that is what they really want to get out of this new portal and the basis for their business model. I think that the impact on the translation market is going to be huge. I would encourage professional translators to stay clear of Google Translation Center or even sabotage it by loading garbage into their system. I sincerely hope time proves me wrong and makes me swallow my words.

  5. Judy Jenner September 9, 2008 at 11:37 pm

    I really like your blog — keep up the great work!
    Jost always features very interesting things in his Tool Kit. Personally, I am already a bit afraid of what this new Google development might do to our industry’s professional standards. It’s already bad enough. As a translator living here in Las Vegas, I can’t even begin to tell you how often I hear “Our gardener speaks Spanish! He can help with the translations!”. I try to explain that being bilingual is the absolute minimum requirement, the most common denominator. Hopefully Google Translation Center won’t create an even lower common denominator.

  6. Robert Hopkins Jr. September 22, 2008 at 12:18 pm

    Professional translators shouldn’t be hostile to Google’s efforts. I thought of the same basic idea and only rue the fact that Google has decided to do it themselves. The concept is simple: use MT to do a first-draft translation, then edit the result. Google’s MT, in some language pairs, is good enough to actually save time and keystrokes for a professional translator. The quid pro quo: you get a quick, free, first draft. Google memorizes your edits and improves its statistical database. The ideal front end would allow you to store and manage your personal TM online.

  7. Rui Freitas October 4, 2008 at 5:57 pm

    It is sad that many people share the idea that any one who speaks two languages is automatically capable of translating between them. Fortunatelly, however, I think qualify translators are still beyond the reach of machine translation or even this sort of wiki/free translation service Google wants to offer. There are still many specialized subjects that require professional translators, good project management and a great deal of experience and sensibility to the subtleties of language.

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