Google's Language Tools
Google was recently given the highest rating in a government test (National Institute of Standards and Technology) of machine translation tools.
Google describes its "automatic translation" as being "...produced automatically by state-of-the-art technology without the intervention of human translators." This seems like a strange word choice, almost as if 'intervention' is being used pejoratively.
However, reading further down in the FAQ, I see that Google is careful to offer this disclaimer for possible inaccuracies in the translation: "While many engineers and linguists are working on the problem, it will be some time before anyone can offer a quick and seamless translation experience. In the interim, we hope the service we provide is useful for most purposes."
Once again, an odd choice of words!
I think it will be some time before the translation experience sans humans is immediate, or in real-time as well as intelligible, but there are certainly varying expectations and definitions when it comes to requiring a "quick and seamless translation experience."
I would like to think that for what it's worth, a human intervention can be quite helpful, and what's more, on those projects that go beyond the translation of a phrase or sentence, some of us pretty darn good at offering our clients a quick and seamless translation experience.
Finally, I leave you with a humorous twist on the classic translation/back-translation every purveyor of human linguistic expertise loves to perform, using Google's language tools. Yes, it's been done a million times, but I hope you'll appreciate the humor of this one.
Sally's mom is very nice.
La mama de la salida es muy agradable.
Back to English:
The breast of the exit is very pleasant.
(The component that really brings the entire deck of cards down is, of course, the missing accent in "mamí", which some of the other online MT tools remembered to add.)