French Writing Resources

Google Translate

Quick Pros-

  • very fast, real time translation (ie. You don’t have to click and load a new page for every translation)

Quick Cons-

  • translates literally, doesn’t account for nuance
  • uses most popular results
  • requires a lot of self-correction

The Story-
Due to its speed, Google translate can actually be a great tool, but its translations require a lot of self-correction. Google can be wildly inaccurate in sentence structure, articles (le, la, des, etc.), gender construction, and contextual nuances. However, if you just can’t think of a certain word in French, Google translate is a pretty elegant solution for quick translation. It’s also nice that if you click on the word, a bunch of synonyms show up and you can proceed from there to a French dictionary to look up the contextual use of words of interest. You just have to be careful in what you put into Google Translate, as little changes yield completely different translations. For example, if you type “burning cold” Google gives “combustion froide”. If you type in “a burning cold” Google gives “rhume brulânt”. The addition of “a” changed the translation completely. As well, Google here interpreted cold in a health context rather than a weather/temperature context. Google translates words based on the most popular translation; it may not always be the translation that you are looking for. For this reason, it is always good to look up the words from Google Translate in a French monolingual dictionary, to assure that you have the right word for a particular context.


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This entry was posted on November 26, 2014 by in Translation and tagged , , , , .
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