An online translator is an interactive program implemented on a web page offering translations of a text into a different language. The translation is generated by a computer and instantly displayed. And best of all - using it doesn't cost you anything!
Behind the online translator there is a software program that analyses the text according to predefined linguistic rules and reconstructs the text in a different language according to the corresponding rules of the target language.
As opposed to an online dictionary, which only translates single words or phrases, an online translator can translate larger text segments or even entire web pages. Some of these online translators are better than others, but they all have one thing in common. They don't produce a perfect copy of the submitted text in another language.
You can easily check this by typing in a short test text translate it to a different language and then translate it back to the original language again. You will see that some words have been mistranslated and that the sentence structure no longer is correct!
Taking this into account, it is clear that an online translator never can substitute a human translator. If you want to have your web page or your sales letter or other business material translated into a foreign language you should use a professional translator. Keep in mind that a bad translated sales letter will not bring you any sales and an incorrect translated web page will only provide you with an unprofessional look.
So - when should you use the online translator?
You should use the online translator when you want to translate a text written in a foreign language into your native language or a language you understand!
Imagine you are doing some research on the Internet and come across a web page written in a language you don't understand. Now is the time to look for an online translator! You simply copy and paste the text, or type in the URL if the online translator translates web pages, and choose what language you want to have the text translated into. And there you have it!
As I said earlier, this type of translations will not be perfect, but you will at least be able to understand what the text is about.
An online translator is also fine to use when you want to translate short and simple sentences into a foreign language. Lets say you for instance want to impress a foreign business contact by adding a personalized greeting in his language to your email. Then you can go ahead and use the online translator.
Here is a list of how to write "Happy Birthday!!" in 10 other languages.
Finnish: Hyvää syntymäpäivää!!
Norwegian: Gratulerer med dagen!!
German: Alles Gute zum Geburtstag!!
Polish: Wszystkiego najlepszego z okazji urodzin!!
Croatian: Srijetan Rodjendan!!
Spanish: Feliz Cumpleaños!!
French: Joyeux Anniversaire!!
Italian: Buon Compleanno!!
Macedonian: Sreken Rodenden!!
Welsh: Pen Blwydd Hapus!!
To be sure you don't make any mistakes it might be a good idea to also check your translation with some online dictionaries.
Anita Karlson Henssler