How To Use Translation Tools Efficiently

Although there are already many translation tools available, it is very easy to translate entire paragraphs and long sentences. However, the current translation tools still need to be improved. The quality of the paragraph translation is far less than that of manual translation. Therefore, translation tools are often degraded into dictionaries. But in fact, if used properly, it can still achieve the goal of fully conveying the original intention, and try to improve translation quality and translation efficiency.


Author / Translator: Beta-TNT



First of all, let me set a scope: we’re focus on translating text from the translator’s mother language into a foreign language, for example, translating this Chinese-written article into English, and confining it to the translation of discourse articles, not literary works. This also has certain requirements for the translator’s foreign language proficiency. Based on the two points above, I will share some of the techniques I summarized during my translation work. In fact, my English is not very good. I only passed CET-4 during my college ages. Errors and mistakes are unavoidable. You can mail me if any problem:, Thank you.

The advantage of a translation tool is that it can quickly translate entire paragraph with zero grammatical errors. It has a better quality of translation when translating a clearly stated discourse text. The disadvantages are oral and literary works, and are easily interfered with by certain elements in the original sentence. For many people like me who are not good at writing in foreign language, it’s hard to quickly translate high-quality articles written in native language into foreign languages, despite the availability of translation tools. However, in addition to trying to improve their foreign language skills, there are still some tricks. The core technique of this article is to make some changes to the original text without changing the expressions and basic logic of the original text so that it can be better handled by translation tools and improve translation quality and efficiency.


Making a clear statement

Most of the online translation tools are still not good at translating complex sentences and entire paragraphs. If you find that the entire paragraph translated by the translation tool is of poor quality, you need to split it into several short sentences or clauses, and then use the tool to translate them one by one. Sometimes it’s also necessary to simplify the expression of the original text, such as changing the double-negative sentence pattern to a simple affirmative sentence pattern, or temporarily removing some unnecessary modifications from the original text, and adding it back after translation.

In general language presentation habits, some components of sentences are sometimes omitted. Although the translation tool can also handle this situation, most of the time it can be wrong. At this time, it is necessary to complement the components omitted in the original sentence before using the translation tool.

Translation tools may be confused by the ambiguous words or usages in the original text, so there is a trick that replacing them before using tool. Such as trying to avoid using polysemy.


Meeting the target language habits

I think everyone is familiar with the “translationese.” This means that the translator only translates literally, retains the original writing order and expression habits, and does not modify into the expression of the target language. This is another problem with translation tools. Although translationese should be avoided as much as possible, and they must be corrected in the proofreading stages. However, if the translator has a certain understanding of the target language, it can be used instead. This means the original text should first be rewritten as a “translationese” and then translated into a target language using tools.


Replacing The Proprietary Vocabulary

Unless specialized translation tools, most online translation tools are poor at processing proprietary vocabulary, they are short at judging the exact meaning of polysemy in context. if a plain word is used as a proper name in the original text, the translation tool may wrongly regard it as an ordinary word, not as a name. In this case, since we know the exact meaning of these words, we can replace the problematic vocabulary in the original text with another vocabulary that is completely irrelevant and unambiguous (dummy), does not affect the structure of the original text, so that we can easily recognize those translated dummies in the translated text and replace them with real vocabularies.


Example (from a recent post):

Original text:


Translation from Google Translate:

The mimeograph of the earlier batch of M-1961 field pockets is still using the “M-1956” designation, but the FSN warehouse number has been updated.

Indeed there is no grammatical error in this translation, but still exists some problems, I’ve already marked’em out. The translation tool translates the word “油印” in the original text into a “mimeograph”. This word actually refers to a printing machine of some kind. But it is obviously a misuse here. As a common sense in this field, we know that the “油印” here should be translated into “stamp,” which is more commonly referred to “邮票” in Chinese languages. Since the original text comes from a Chinese context, it’s necessary to interpret the abbreviation. Therefore, after the abbreviation “FSN”, “仓储号” (“stock number”) is added. But we all know the meaning of “FSN”, it stands for “Federal Stock Number”. Translating the phrase “FSN仓储号” (“FSN Stock Number”) into English literally will create semantic duplication, and the translation tool missed the correct translation of “仓储号”. So we can simply delete “仓储号” from the original text. Modify the original text to following:


This time we got a fairly good result from Google Translate:

In the early batch of M-1961 field pocket stamps, the “M-1956” was still used, but the FSN has been updated.

After a little adjustment and touch-up:

The early version of M-1961 field pack was still named “M-1956” in its stamp, but its FSN has updated.

It’s a simple sentence indeed, and there is no difficulty doing a direct translation, just as a example. We’ll face much more complex situation in practical translation.


This article was translated from Chinese by the methods above.