Google Translate

How to best use Google Translate

We live in a world where communication between cultures and languages has never been easier, and the Google Translate tool is just one of the ways that has made this cross-cultural phenomenon possible. However the Google Translate tool is by no means perfect. Somebody who sees a passage of text written in another language might figure that reading the language is as simple as copy and pasting the words directly into Google Translate and automatically understand what is being said. However, when one does this, the translation that might come from it might be akin to what happens in the following video.

Google Translate

The video is of a girl singing a hughely popular song ‘Do you want to build a snowman’ from the popular Disney movie ‘Frozen‘ and as you’ll find out the translation from Google Translate isn’t exactly like the original version, in fact some of it is quite hilariously wrong. The song had been translated into many different languages, and then back again into English for the girl to sing.

You can see that some parts of the original song came through, but then the context was thrown completely out of whack, meaning little to no sense in the context of the song.

That said though, Google Translate can be a very powerful tool when studying a language like Japanese. The most effective way it can be used is as a dictionary, only typing in a single word. However as those of you seriously studying Japanese wpuld know, there are various forms of words used in different social situations, so what you get from Google Translate may well be inappropriate for your use, but it still works at a basic level.

Another use of Google Translate is to translate very very simple sentences into your target language. Take for example the sentence ‘I like apples’, it translates as

私はりんごが好き – (Watashi wa ringo ga suki)

Which is a basic, simple way of saying what you’d expect..

I like apples

It’s when you want to translate the more difficult sentences, the meanings of words and context get changed into gibberish. Lets translate the following ‘I like to jump and play all day while my grandma sleeps in the rumpus room’

私はジャンプして、私のおばあちゃんは、娯楽室に眠っている間に一日中遊ぶのが好き – (Watashi wa janpu shite, watashi no o bāchan wa, goraku-shitsu ni nemutte iru ma ni ichinichijū asobu no ga suki)

And translated back again it turns into

I jump, my grandma, likes to play all day while you are asleep to Games Room

See how the meaning get’s changed around quite a bit? My advice for using Google Translate effectively is to break down your sentences into the most simple terms and translate them.

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Duncan Sensei

Article by: Duncan Sensei

Steven Duncan Sensei is the DuncanSensei from! having lived in japan for over 2 years he's gained a love for the country and it shows in his teaching and photographic work.