I can understand the use of automatic translators to some extent. But, for instance, take a look at this question – whose original form stated the following

"I knew that da was meaning there, but Google Translate suggests: As"

thus being a question somehow originated by overconfidence on automatic translators. Actually it's not so strange to find recently questions of the form:

Google Translate/Bing/'whatever' says ... but it sounds strange.

So, my question is

  • Are we answering questions that are originated by the impossibility of a machine to translate correctly? I mean, it's not clear to me in which sense an automatic translator can be taken as "having done previous effort to answer the question", since it will mostly render nonsense. (But it might just be me, because I thought somebody who signs up here is to learn and understand German [or helping others] and to get a global idea what German is – not only being able to tell in German pair of very specific sentences)

1 Answer 1


Google translate is in fact not even a bad start IMO. But it's also nothing more than that.

Automatic translations are in fact quite good at analyzing (at least roman languages) and fixed phrases. The word choice and grammar may be (sometimes seriously) off, but the words are the correct ones in most cases.

This makes banning Google Translate a little hard.

But as you correctly stated, it will also "mostly render nonsense", at least for complicated sentence structures. So while it is useful for short and idiomatic sentences, it can sometimes just confuse the reader even more when sentences are complicated.

It is a useful tool for word-lookups, though. You can click almost any word in a translated sentence, and google will propose alternative translations for it, or rather the corresponding original word.

The bottom line of this concerning research effort:

Google Translate and similar may be a good start for your search, but they cannot sufficiently "understand" the nuances and constructions of a sentence. Using only Google Translate is not enough.

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