I've had troubles with translations programs in the past. It seems that most take a word-for-word approach to translation. Obviously this falls short in most circumstances.

It seems that Google's translation engine is different, however (although I'm not sure which algorithm it uses). Also, there is a new HTML voice API available in Chrome and Google Translate is the first Google service to use this API.

So, how well does this translation service work, in general? I'm sure I can trust it for simple words, but does it work well for idioms or phrases?

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    I don't know what kind of answers can be given here, except for anecdotal. Mine: no, it doesn't really work reliably. It can often give you a rough idea of what the text is all about, but I wouldn't trust it for anything else. Nov 16 '11 at 12:44
  • @JuanAntonio I think I agree with you. The question isn't well suited. Please vote to close this question as Not Constructive. (It will be useful having it around, closed as Not Constructive, even though it is closed.)
    – Richard
    Nov 16 '11 at 12:49
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    -1 IMHO this is the place to put this question.
    – Laura
    Nov 16 '11 at 14:34
  • @LauraMoyàAlcover Yes, this is not a good question for the site. That's why it needs closed as off-topic. (However, there is benefit in having the question around and closed.) You should vote based on the usefulness, clarity, and research effort of the question, not on whether it's a good question for this site. (Granted, people generally vote however they want to, regardless of suggestions.)
    – Richard
    Nov 16 '11 at 14:39
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    I think questions about particular doubtful translations from Google Translate may be on-topic but that general broad ones like this are not good for the site. Nov 16 '11 at 15:47

My experience has been that Google translated works well enough in MOST situations. It appears to have gone beyond the "word for word" stage, and often (though not always) captures the local idiom.

It's main problems occur when a word has multiple meanings e.g. "cleave," to cut and to bind, or is used in widely different contexts. Then the program is not much better than "random" in choosing the appropriate one.

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