Isn't Google Translate just another translation memory?
Thread poster: Diana Singureanu

Diana Singureanu  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:47
English to Romanian
+ ...
Feb 12, 2014

I had an argument with a colleague recently who states that it is much more complex (I agree the memory corpus with segments in various language combination must be very wide) but surely this is the basic principle....
Also has anyone ever heard of a software which interprets live - automatically? Basically there is a language recognition tool involved as well but again it's based on translation memory...
I would really appreciate your replies.

[Edited at 2014-02-13 07:38 GMT]


José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:47
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Of course it is! Feb 12, 2014

The difference is that YOUR translation memory, viz, from MemoQ, Trados, WordFast, etc. will have been created by YOU. You know your competence as a translator, or at least you should.

Google Translate's giant multilingual TMs have been collectively created by millions of unidentified people of all shades, ranging from wannabes and self-claimed "tranzlaters" to some world-class masters of professional translation who published bilingual stuff on the web.

You never know what you'll get.

Regarding your other question, you may visit YouTube and request subtitles based on voice recognition and automatic translation. The result is usually hilarious. What's missing there - YouTube has no use for it - is to capture that translated text and shoot it through some text-to-speech program (they exist since the days of Windows 3.1).


Erik Freitag  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:47
Member (2006)
Dutch to German
+ ...
Of course it isn't Feb 12, 2014

Dear Diana,

I'm afraid your colleague is absolutely right here. Although Google Translate may look like a simple TM system to the unitiated eye, it works fundamentally different. If you're interested to learn how it works, you could start reading here:

It has its uses, but certainly not for a professional translator.

[Bearbeitet am 2014-02-12 21:49 GMT]


John Fossey  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:47
Member (2008)
French to English
No, it's not a translation memory Feb 12, 2014

Google translate is not simply a translation memory. It has a huge "corpus" of translations but it uses complex statistical calculations to determine that when a phrase or series of words appears in the source text in a certain position and under particular conditions then there is a high probability that another certain phrase or series of words will appear in the target text in a certain place and order. Each word and each phrase, along with its position, is weighted statistically.

A translation memory is much simpler. It just compares the degree of match between the source text in the translation and the source text in the translation memory, and if the level of match exceeds a certain threshold it produces the entire translation segment.


Phil Hand  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:47
Chinese to English
Similar in some ways Feb 13, 2014

GT works on a principle that is similar to a TM. For example, it can't invent any language that isn't in its corpus. But it is more granular than most TMs: it works at the level of the word and the phrase, not the sentence. And it applies an extra layer or two of processing, so instead of just telling you how close a phrase is, it works out a best guess for the context.

I believe there is a Japanese device which claims to do live interpreting of tourist phrases. And the US military I think has a device which does English-Arabic or English-Pashtu for use in its Middle Eastern wars. Not sure if that one is actually working yet. But I assume they are extremely limited in the range of language they can recognise and translate.


William Zhang
Local time: 17:47
English to Chinese
+ ...
google translation is not TM Feb 13, 2014

TM must be edited and checked by human, unchecked materials are not reliable.


LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:47
Russian to English
+ ...
NO. Feb 13, 2014

Diana Singureanu wrote:

Also has anyone ever heard of a software which interprets live - automatically? Basically there is a language recognition tool involved as well but again it's based on translation memory...

And, I doubt anyone will ever hear. (About a reliable tool of that kind--perhaps when robots start walking in the street, doing different chores, which I personally doubt will ever happen).

Plus, who would need it?

[Edited at 2014-02-13 11:43 GMT]


Alex Lago  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:47
Member (2009)
English to Spanish
+ ...
No it isn't Feb 13, 2014

A TM is basically a database in which one of the fields stores the original segment and another field stores the translation, plus some fields with the date and name of person who created the entry.

GT is not a database.

Yes there are programs that interpret (I'm not saying they're any good), for example

And even specific devices


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Isn't Google Translate just another translation memory?

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