Automation of Website Translations

About five years ago for a consulting assignment, we looked at programs that could automatically translate from one language to another. Of course, Google Translate and Babylon were two major players. Well as more Web users are looking for an economical automated translation of the text on a website from one language to another, there is a  need to take another look at  some of the tools/programs and how well they do translations now.  A second review will look at the cost, accuracy and ease of setup of auto  translation tools

Among small businesses in Canada the most frequent request is for English to French followed distantly by Portuguese, Italian  or  Spanish,. Given the constant improvements in machine translations over the past 5 years our tests here will look at translations of text from English to French. The second part of the tests will take the translated text and translate it back to English.

We have incorporated the Weglot automated translations because of the tool’s competitive pricing, 109 languages available for translation  and wide range of program integrations it support:
WordPress, Drupal, Shopify, BigCommerce, JavaScript, Prestashop, Laravel,, Symfony, Wix, Weebly, SquareSpace, Jimdo, HepScout and Webflow are on an expanding list Web Building systems. So now lets see how well the autmated translator currently do.

English to French Translations

Translators Web Page 1  Web Page 2
English Original –see here for Post. As Winter lingers ever longer into Spring, the “Vernal True Coming” is no longer March 21st or the first glimmers of daffodils and  tulips or rose and crimson Maple leaf buds. No, now its Cherry blossoms in the parks of Toronto. HighPark in the West End of the city has a huge showing. And the Cherry Blossoms seem to invigorate all the Park’s colors: Red banners flutter at Allen Gardens in Scarlet hues along the park’s main pathways. . They are mounted on  big, black lumber-jack tripods 20 feet high. The banners stretch across wooden beams as Spring’s  insistent rain and winds echo the Anger and Anguish that marks a year of Reconciliation with Native Indians of Canada.
Weglot Translation Plugin-
109 languages from Afrikaans to Zulu
Alors que l’hiver s’attarde de plus en plus au printemps, le “Vernal True Coming” n’est plus le 21 mars ou les premières lueurs de jonquilles et de tulipes ou de bourgeons de feuilles d’érable roses et cramoisi. Non, maintenant ses cerisiers fleurissent dans les parcs de Toronto. HighPark dans le West End de la ville a un spectacle énorme. Et les Cherry Blossoms semblent revigorer toutes les couleurs du parc : Des bannières rouges flottent à Allen Gardens dans des tons écarlates le long des sentiers principaux du parc. . Ils sont montés sur de grands trépieds noirs de 20 pieds de haut. Les bannières s’étendent sur des poutres en bois alors que la pluie et les vents insistants du printemps font écho à la colère et à l’angoisse qui marquent une année de réconciliation avec les Amérindiens du Canada.
Google Translation
97 languages from Afrikaans to Zulu
Alors que l’hiver s’attarde de plus en plus longtemps au printemps, le «Vernal True Coming» n’est plus le 21 mars ni les premières lueurs de jonquilles et de tulipes ou de boutons de feuilles d’érable rose et cramoisi. Non, maintenant ses fleurs de cerisier dans les parcs de Toronto. HighPark dans le West End de la ville a une énorme projection. Et les cerisiers en fleurs semblent revigorer toutes les couleurs du parc: Des bannières rouges flottent aux jardins Allen dans des teintes écarlates le long des principales allées du parc. . Ils sont montés sur de grands trépieds à bois noirs de 20 pieds de haut. Les bannières s’étendent sur des poutres en bois alors que la pluie et les vents persistants du printemps font écho à la colère et à l’angoisse qui marquent une année de réconciliation avec les Amérindiens du Canada.
Microsoft Bing Translation
66 languages
Alors que l’hiver s’attarde de plus en plus au printemps, le « Vernal True Coming » n’est plus le 21 mars ou les premières lueurs de jonquilles et de tulipes ou de bourgeons de feuilles d’érable roses et cramoisi. Non, maintenant ses cerisiers fleurissent dans les parcs de Toronto. High Park dans le West End de la ville a un spectacle énorme. Et les Cherry Blossoms semblent revigorer toutes les couleurs du parc : Des bannières rouges flottent à Allen Gardens dans des tons écarlates le long des sentiers principaux du parc. . Ils sont montés sur de grands trépieds noirs de 20 pieds de haut. Les bannières s’étendent sur des poutres en bois alors que la pluie et les vents insistants du printemps font écho à la colère et à l’angoisse qui marquent une année de réconciliation avec les Amérindiens du Canada.
PROMT Online
20 languages from Arabic to Ukrainian
Comme l’Hiver s’attarde jamais plus long dans Spring, la « Vraie Arrivée Printanière » n’est plus le 21 mars ou les premières faibles lueurs de jonquilles et de tulipes ou est montée et les bourgeons de feuille d’Érable cramoisis. Non, maintenant sa Cherry fleurit dans les parcs de Toronto. HighPark à la Fin Ouest de la ville a une énorme exposition. Et les Fleurs de Cherry semblent fortifier le colors: de tout le Parc. Les bannières rouges battent à Allen Gardens dans les teintes Écarlates le long des sentiers principaux du parc.. Ils sont montés sur les trépieds de bûcheron grands, noirs de 20 pieds de haut. L’étendue de bannières à travers les rayons de bois comme la pluie pressante de Spring et les vents répercute la Colère et l’Angoisse qui marque une année de Réconciliation avec les Indiens natals du Canada.

What is remarkable is that the four translations into French are reasonably close. All of the translators do not change the quoted text which is correct. But 3 of four fail to translate West End in the first paragraph. In the second paragraph, pathways are subject to different translations and lumber-jack is not translated at all. Our next section looks how well the French translations stand up to re-translation back to English.

French Translation Back to English

Translator Tool French Translation Translation Back to English Original English
Weglot re-translation Alors que l’hiver s’attarde de plus en plus au printemps, le “Vernal True Coming” n’est plus le 21 mars ou les premières lueurs de jonquilles et de tulipes ou de bourgeons de feuilles d’érable roses et cramoisi. Non, maintenant ses cerisiers fleurissent dans les parcs de Toronto. HighPark dans le West End de la ville a un spectacle énorme. Et les Cherry Blossoms semblent revigorer toutes les couleurs du parc : While winter lingers longer and longer at Spring, the “Vernal True Coming” is no more March 21 nor the first glimmers of daffodils and tulips or pink and crimson maple leaf buds. No, now cherry trees blooming in Toronto’s parks. HighPark in the West End of the city has a huge exhibition. And cherry blossoms seem to reinvigorate all the colors of the park: As Winter lingers ever longer into Spring, the “Vernal True Coming” is no longer March 21st or the first glimmers of daffodils and  tulips or rose and crimson Maple leaf buds. No, now its Cherry blossoms in the parks of Toronto. HighPark in the West End of the city has a huge showing. And the Cherry Blossoms seem to invigorate all the Park’s colors:
Google  re-translation Alors que l’hiver s’attarde de plus en plus longtemps au printemps, le «Vernal True Coming» n’est plus le 21 mars ni les premières lueurs de jonquilles et de tulipes ou de boutons de feuilles d’érable rose et cramoisi. Non, maintenant ses fleurs de cerisier dans les parcs de Toronto. HighPark dans le West End de la ville a une énorme projection. Et les cerisiers en fleurs semblent revigorer toutes les couleurs du parc: While winter lingers longer and longer in the spring, the “Vernal True Coming” is no longer March 21 nor the first glimmers of daffodils and tulips or pink and crimson maple leaf buds. No, now cherry blossoms in Toronto’s parks. HighPark in the West End of the city has a huge projection. And cherry blossoms seem to reinvigorate all the colors of the park: As Winter lingers ever longer into Spring, the “Vernal True Coming” is no longer March 21st or the first glimmers of daffodils and  tulips or rose and crimson Maple leaf buds. No, now its Cherry blossoms in the parks of Toronto. HighPark in the West End of the city has a huge showing. And the Cherry Blossoms seem to invigorate all the Park’s colors:
Microsoft Bing re-translation Alors que l’hiver s’attarde de plus en plus au printemps, le « Vernal True Coming » n’est plus le 21 mars ou les premières lueurs de jonquilles et de tulipes ou de bourgeons de feuilles d’érable roses et cramoisi. Non, maintenant ses cerisiers fleurissent dans les parcs de Toronto. High Park dans le West End de la ville a un spectacle énorme. Et les Cherry Blossoms semblent revigorer toutes les couleurs du parc : As winter lingers in spring, the Vernal True Coming is no longer March 21 or the first glimmers of dads and tulips or pink and crimson maple leaf buds. No, now its cherry trees are blooming in Toronto’s parks. High Park in the city’s West End has a huge sight. And the Cherry Blossoms seem to invigorate all the colors of the park: As Winter lingers ever longer into Spring, the “Vernal True Coming” is no longer March 21st or the first glimmers of daffodils and  tulips or rose and crimson Maple leaf buds. No, now its Cherry blossoms in the parks of Toronto. HighPark in the West End of the city has a huge showing. And the Cherry Blossoms seem to invigorate all the Park’s colors:
PROMT Online re-translation Comme l’Hiver s’attarde jamais plus long dans Spring, la « Vraie Arrivée Printanière » n’est plus le 21 mars ou les premières faibles lueurs de jonquilles et de tulipes ou est montée et les bourgeons de feuille d’Érable cramoisis. Non, maintenant sa Cherry fleurit dans les parcs de Toronto. HighPark à la Fin Ouest de la ville a une énorme exposition. Et les Fleurs de Cherry semblent fortifier le colors: de tout le Parc. As the Winter ever stays longer in Spring, «True Spring Arrival» is not any more on March 21st or the first weak lights of daffodils and of tulips or went up and the crimson buds of maple leaf. No, now his Cherry flourishes in the parks of Toronto. HighPark at the West End of the city has a huge exhibition. And Cherry’s Flowers seem to strengthen codoring: of all Parks. As Winter lingers ever longer into Spring, the “Vernal True Coming” is no longer March 21st or the first glimmers of daffodils and  tulips or rose and crimson Maple leaf buds. No, now its Cherry blossoms in the parks of Toronto. HighPark in the West End of the city has a huge showing. And the Cherry Blossoms seem to invigorate all the Park’s colors:

Using the French translation as the source for the programs’ translation bak to English produced interesting results. No automated translation came close to reproducing th orginal English paragraph. However, Weglot and Google produced pretty respectable re-translations while Bing and PROMPT  were straying the most away from the original. This raises the question of how reliably meaningful the translations are. It is interesting the approach Weglot takes for its automated translations.

Weglot Automated Translations

Four months ago , a client asked for  a review of automated translation services – Google Translator, GTranslate, PolyLang, Weglot, and WPML were examined. Weglot, because of it competitive pricing and number of languages supported would  have been the clear winner but for two problems. First, Weglot failed to translate complex slider, forms and  PageBuilder widgets – missing  captions and other embedded command & control text. Second, Weglot’s Editor had some  bugs that the vendor promised to fix.

So having the test cases from 4 months ago, it was easy to run through them. again The improvements were remarkable. From about a dozen errors, Weglot had removed all but one as shown in the screenshot:
This was quite an improvement that frankly surprised me. Of equal interest was performance testing  results of the Weglot translated pages. Using  Pingdom and GMetrix, the speed tests showed translated pages to be nearly identical in speed to the originals. To my surprise some of the smaller size translated pages ran about 10% faster than the originals; but that may be a statistical artifact associated with Internet speed tests. However, there was a one notable slowdown. The first time you visit a translated page the load time is 20-50% longer while the translation table gets initialized. Thereafter, response time is generally as good as the original page load times.

Likewise Weglot editing has been smoothed considerably. Now as we have seen in our simple translation exercise above, clients will inevitably need to do some editing of their translated pages. Weglot has taken the approach that there are two type of edits – manual and professional. Professional edits are locked and protected from change except by an authorized professional editor. Manual edits can be made by anyone with the appropriate WP role level. Here is a screenshot of the new edit facility:
weglotWeglot has a number of added utilities including an app that counts all the words on a website which makes pricing out a Weglot installation easier. The following is the latest Weglot price table:
weglotpricingThe free trial uses the Starter plan for one translated language and 10,00 words. But it only lasts for 10 days. These rates are roughly comparable to Premium plugin plans. 10,000 words easily fits a medium scale website with 8 pages and 30 posts and 5 mediia sliders or galleries. Be careful when adding a third or fourth language. Each language generatesa bigger count of translated words – eating into the 10,00 word Starter or 50,000 Business plans.

But the bottom line is that Weglot has improved notably  in 4 months time. It now is one of the best automated translation systems for your websites – be they HTML, WordPress, Shopify, or 11 other Web Builder systems.

Summary

Automation of Web translations is a tricky business . First, it is not perfect  as seen at the top of this post. Automated  translations will need refinement just like photos or videos before they go on a website for maximum effectiveness. So look for translation automation with strong edit capabilities. Second, the the technology is rapidly changing and improving – the improvements in Weglot over 4 months have made it much more compelling. Also because of increased competition, the costs are also becoming more

Third, translation has become more complex with text being locked inside conditional  JavaScript or new CSS logic. Translating paragraph or text blocks is “the easy stuff”, where as finding all the text locked away in  scripts and styling containers is more challenging. Finally, translations are a matter of style and opinion