Babel Fish, Google Translate and human go head-to-head

A fun side benefit of publishing a blog and writing stories for international publications is that I occasionally come across an article I wrote that has been translated into another language. Today I discovered this article, published in Spanish, which came from my original article “10 reasons entrepreneurs should take more vacations.”

Exite sign

This led me to check out some online translation services to compare how they work head to head. I also asked someone who has a rough understanding of Spanish, but isn’t necessarily fluent in the language, to do a translation. The tools: Babel Fish, Google Translate and Free Translation Online (from Smartlink Corporation). Human translator: jack-of-all-trades co-worker, Cara Smith.

(One caveat – since I’m translating the Spanish translation back to English with this effort, it assumes that the Spanish translation was correct in the first place.)

Excerpt 1:

Original - It’s been a long time since you’ve been on a vacation. Admit it – when’s the last time that you took a vacation? A real one. A work trip doesn’t count. If it’s been longer than 6 months, it’s time.

Spanish Translation - Hace tiempo que no te tomas unas vacaciones. Probablemente haga más de 6 meses desde tus últimas vacaciones (los viajes por trabajo no cuentan). Si hace más de 10 meses que no sales de vacaciones… estás en problemas!

Babel FishFor a long time you have not been taking vacations. Probably it does more than 6 months from your last vacations (the trips by work do not count). If it does more than 10 months that go out on vacations… you are not in problems!

Google TranslateNot long ago that you take a vacation. Probably make more than 6 months from your last vacation (travel for work do not count). If more than 10 months that sales did not leave … you’re in trouble!

Free Online TranslationSome time ago that you do not take a few vacation. Probably do more than 6 months from your last vacation (the trips for work do not count). If more than 10 months you do not go out of vacation … you are in problems!

HumanIt’s been a long time since you took a vacation. Probably it’s been 6 months since your last vacation (the work trips don’t count). If it’s been more than 10 months since your last vacation…that’s a problem.

Excerpt 2:

Original - It’s helpful to remind yourself why you’re working so hard. Most of us aren’t working our butts off for nothing. There is usually a dream, a goal, a vision to come at the end of it. For me, I want to be able to travel. So taking periodic vacations reminds me why I’m doing all of this.

Spanish translation - Te ayudará a recordar porque trabajas tan duro. Todos luchamos por uno o varios objetivos y unas vacaciones es el mejor método para recordarte ese porqué.

Babel Fish – It will help you to remember because you work so hard. All we fought by one or several objectives and vacations are the best method for recordarte that because.

Google Translate - Will help you remember because you work so hard. All are fighting for one or more goals and a vacation is the best method for this remind you why.

Free Online Translation - He will help you to remember because you work so hardly. We all fight for one or several targets and the best method is a few vacation to remind to you this porqué.

Human – It helps you remember why you work so hard. Everyone fights for one or various objectives and a vacation is the best method to remember that because (missing a reason here…)

Excerpt 3:

Original - Vacations are fun. At least, they should be. And if a vacation isn’t fun to you, do something that is. The point is, you need to lighten up sometimes, have a little fun, laugh, joke around, remember that everything isn’t serious and at the point of imminent collapse (which is how entrepreneurs usually feel).

Spanish translation - Las vacaciones son divertidas…. ¿Acaso la vida no está para disfrutarla?

Babel Fish - The vacations are funny…. Perhaps the life is not for enjoying it?

Google Translate – Holidays are fun …. Does life is not to enjoy?

Free Online Translation - The vacation is entertained …. Perhaps is not the life to enjoy it?

Human - Vacations are fun. Isn’t life for enjoyment?

To me, it looks like the human with moderate Spanish skills won, hands down. But if you aren’t lucky enough to sit 3 feet away from someone who is willing to indulge your translation needs, I would go with Google Translate. At least in Spanish-to-English translation, with these examples, it had a slight advantage.

Since I’m already this deep into the experiment, here’s one more test. This time, I entered the original text into the English-to-Spanish translation tool, then entered the Spanish result into the Spanish-to-English translation tool to see what would happen.

Yahoo Babel Fish logo

Original: It’s been a long time since you’ve been on a vacation. Admit it – when’s the last time that you took a vacation? A real one. A work trip doesn’t count. If it’s been longer than 6 months, it’s time.

Spanish translation: Ha sido un rato largo puesto que usted ha estado en vacaciones. ¿Admítalo – cuándo la vez última que usted tardó vacaciones? Verdadero. Un viaje del trabajo no cuenta. Si ha sido más largo de 6 meses, es tiempo.

Back to English: He has been awhile long since you have been in vacations. Admítalo – when the last time that you took vacations? True. A trip of the work does not count. If he has been longer of 6 months, is time.

Google Translate

Original: It’s been a long time since you’ve been on a vacation. Admit it – when’s the last time that you took a vacation? A real one. A work trip doesn’t count. If it’s been longer than 6 months, it’s time.

Spanish translation: Ha sido un largo tiempo desde que ha sido en unas vacaciones. Admítelo – cuando es la última vez que se tomó unas vacaciones? Un verdadero uno. Un viaje de trabajo no cuenta. Si han pasado más de 6 meses, es el momento.

Back to English: It has been a long time since I had been in a vacation. Admit it – when was the last time you took a vacation? A real one. A journey is not working. If it’s been more than 6 months, it’s time.

Free Online Translation logo

Original: It’s been a long time since you’ve been on a vacation. Admit it – when’s the last time that you took a vacation? A real one. A work trip doesn’t count. If it’s been longer than 6 months, it’s time.

Spanish translation: Esto ha sido mucho tiempo ya que usted ha sido durante unas vacaciones. ¿Admítalo – cuándo es la vez pasada que usted tomó unas vacaciones? Verdadero uno. Un viaje de trabajo no cuenta. Si ha sido más largo que 6 meses, esto es el tiempo.

Back to English: This has been a lot of time since you have been during a few vacation. It admit – when it is the past time that you took a few vacation? Real one. A trip of work does not count. If it has been longer than 6 months, this is the time.

The results of this second experiment are too close to call. But since I’m not strong in languages (ask me sometime about my experience taking Japanese in college), I’m thankful for each of these online translation tools. And of course, for Cara.

Photo by twinkletoez

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