What do you make of these statistics (on searches for E/S translator v. google translate)?
Thread poster: Daniel Grau

Daniel Grau  Identity Verified
English to Spanish
Jul 25, 2009

I entered several strings in Google Trends, a feature that keeps tabs of strings used in Google searches. I discovered several trends that I cannot quite explain. I used my language combination, although I'm sure similar results would be obtained with other languages.

The first reference is for "English Spanish translator" Google searches:


Notice there is a seasonality, as the volume of searches clearly diminishes during the northern hemisphere's summer. There is also a clear overall reduction as of 2007. It's not clear what the left vertical axis indicates, but the overall volume for 2009 appears to be about 50% of that for earlier years. Note that the prime source of searches was the United States.

Q1: Could this point to a reduction in translation volume starting long before the current global crisis?

The second search reference is for "English Spanish translation":


Note how, unlike the previous graphic, this one actually increases sharply around the start of the global crisis, which is also the time Google Translate was offered in 23 languages. Again in this case, the United Stated was the source of most searches. But if we combine both graphs, we see that they actually started to diverge around 2007:


Q2: Could it be that users suddenly started looking for an English > Spanish service rather than a person?

The third reference is for "Google Translate":


Note there is a steady increase that hits a peak right around mid-year. Curiously, the prime sources of these searches are non-English speaking countries.

Q3: Does this mean most users were looking for translations into English through the newly-available free service?

If we combine all three graphs:


Q4: Can Google Translate be blamed for a reduction in human translation volume, or does it simply represent a hitherto untapped market?



[Subject edited by staff or moderator 2009-07-25 04:39 GMT]


jyuan_us  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:37
Member (2005)
English to Chinese
+ ...
It's a total nonsense Jul 25, 2009

On the trend for the English-Chinese pair, SIngapore was listed as No.1, then Malaysia, then Hong Kong. China comes as the 10th largest.

I think it is a joke. If not, the creator of the chart must be someone who cannot distinguish between DC and Washington State.


Daniel Grau  Identity Verified
English to Spanish
The graphs are not absolute, but normalized Jul 25, 2009


According to the Help section at http://www.google.com/intl/en/trends/about.html :
Google Trends analyzes a portion of Google web searches to compute how many searches have been done for the terms you enter, relative to the total number of searches done on Google over time.

According to that, what you observed means a larger percentage of searches in Singapore are related to translations than in China. Further down they give the reasons:
All results from Google Trends are normalized, which means that we’ve divided the sets of data by a common variable to cancel out the variable’s effect on the data and allow the underlying characteristics of the data sets to be compared. If we didn’t normalize the results, and instead displayed the absolute rankings of cities, they wouldn’t be all that interesting – a densely populated area like New York City would be the top city for many results simply because there are lots of searches from that area.

Remember, Google Trends shows users’ propensity to search for a certain topic on Google on a relative basis. For example, just because a particular region isn’t on the Top Regions list for the term ‘haircut’ doesn’t necessarily mean that people there have decided to stage a mass rebellion against society’s conventions. It could be that people in that region might not use Google to find a barber, use a different term when doing their searches, or simply search for so many other topics unrelated to haircuts, that searches for ‘haircut’ comprise a small portion of the search volume from that region as compared to other regions.




Christina Paiva  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:37
Portuguese to English
+ ...
India for English - Portuguese Jul 25, 2009

Really interesting!

I couldn't resist! I just had to check what were the trends in my language pair.

When comparing translation/translators trends English-Spanish and English-Portuguese, you notice that there are way more Spanish translations in Google's Universeicon_razz.gif

Translations trends EN/PT seem to be constant up to 2008. In 04 and 05, it goes down to zero !!! However, if you try 2009 trends, the graphic shows a steep growth (%?)in translations, while translators curve remains the same... Lots of work out there... But mostly in India... Agencies?


Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:37
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
You aint seen nothing... Jul 25, 2009

Daniel Grau wrote:
The first reference is for "English Spanish translator" Google searches:


Want to see something more spectacular? Try just "Spanish translator".

"Spanish translator" does show a reduction from 2007 onwards, but "Spanish translation" does not reduce. And both maintain the trend of seasonality. What would the reason for the seasonality be?

Both seasonal trend and slow-down are also visible here, although the slow-down only occurs in 2009, not in 2007 or 2008:

It is unfortunate that I can't exclude certain regions. I'd love to see what the patterns are for my language pair *outside* of the main region where it is spoken.


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What do you make of these statistics (on searches for E/S translator v. google translate)?

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