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by Ethan Shen
Which is the best online translation tool for language learners and general users of freeware? A recent research paper evaluates the quality of the three popular online translation tools Google Translate, Bing (Microsoft) Translator, and Yahoo Babelfish. Among other findings, the data reveals that while Google Translate is widely preferred when translating long passages, Microsoft Bing Translator and Yahoo Babelfish often produce better translations for phrases below 140 characters. Also, in general Babelfish performs well in East Asian Languages such as Chinese and Korean and Bing Translator performs well in Spanish, German, and Italian.
The research project was created to answer a simple question I’ve had since using Babelfish.com to help with my Spanish homework many years ago: Which translation engine works best?
Since the research was intended for the general user of such online tools – rather than for professional translators – survey takers were drawn from the general multilingual internet population and quality measures were based on direct comparison, rather than subjective rating scales.
Instead of providing a pre-determined set of phrases, our survey tool was built to dynamically produce translation results to any text provided by the survey taker. The experiment strove to replicate the experience of the average student or casual reader using online translation tools.