Have you ever needed an amateur translation and tried Google Translate and been amazed at just how bad it is? To be fair to Google’s translation developers it is probably better than it’s ever been, but it still produces anything from laughable to ridiculous versions of chunks of text you want to translate.

Professional translator

O.K., so the conventional advice is that you get what you pay for, so if you are getting a service for free like Google Translate you can’t expect the same level of quality as using a professional translation agency. But there are times when you don’t have the need or the budget to use a professional translator. Maybe you just want to impress someone you met and don’t want to say things that seem crazy or could be misinterpreted. Aren’t there any other ways that you can cut the cost of translation down without converting English to gibberish? Here are three translation tools that while not pretending to be as good or as accurate as a professional translator are still way better than Google Translate and other free machine translators. They are not the only ones, but you get the idea!

UnBabel can return a translation in less than an hour, maybe even less if the amount of text you need translating is quite short. UnBabel uses a machine translation tool a bit like Google Translate but it then passes in front of a human editor for inspection and modification. You can even get the first translation you send in (as long as it is no more than 150 words) for free. You first choose the language you want to translate into, and the tone of the text (e.g. if it is informal or formal) as well as a hint about the topic.

You pay by the word and as long as the message is not too long can get your translation emailed back in minutes.

Reddit has listings of people who will translate your requirements for less than a professional translator would charge. Some might even do it for free if it is for a good cause, but generally you have to pay something. Just don’t expect it is a substitute for a professional translation and if you want something translated for a government department, a job or anything official you are better off paying real money and getting an accredited or properly qualified professional translator (e.g. a NAATI translator in Australia) to do the job for you.

Gengo is a bit like UnBabel, but the portion of time that is spent by a human translator is proportionately more and therefore the cost per word is also higher. Otherwise, the same process is involved. Choose the language and tone, then upload what you want translated and wait. The translation may take several hours rather than minutes but you do get a better version of what you wanted translated.