Where to get instant human translation for text?

For example, you might be able to read and understand a foreign language website sufficiently using machine translation (like Google Translate), but machine translation is mostly not sufficient for contributing own content to it. So what? The optimum case would be to have a webservice that offers instant translation for small texts. Or translation with a short turnaround time like one hour, after which you can insert your statement into the website or forum. Ideally, such a webservice would be P2P organized: you would earn credits by doing this instant translation for others, and would spend them for getting own translation.

Funny enough, this exact thing does not exist. Here's what I found instead, by adequacy, starting with the best solutions:

  • Fiverr. So far the best solution I could find for cases where you don't need super professional (just understandable) translation quality. You will easily find people offering 500 – 1000 words of translation for 5 USD. Turnaround time can be as fast as 24 hours. Or try to make a special deal with somebody offering translation, language lessons or similar, so that you agree on a time to chat where you can get the translation right away, or agree that you can send multiple e-mails with short texts which the translator will translate immediately or within a day, up to a total word amount.
  • SpeakLike Chat Translation. Indeed they do realtime translation in chats, and by chatting with yourself on two accounts you can of course intercept the translation for putting it into a webpage lateron. Price is about 0.05 EUR/word [source].
  • SOS Translator Chat. They offer live translation by instant messaging with a translator. They charge a start rate plus a rate per minute, not per word [source]. So this is rather difficult to fit in for contributing content to a website.
  • VerbalizeIt Skype-embedded translation. It seems they offer text-to-text realtime translation for Skype chats. However it's a professional service, so it's not cheap, seemingly starting at 0.17 USD/word [source].
  • ackuna. Nice idea: a crowdsourcing site for translating. You translate something for others, and you can get something translated by others. However there is no system where you have to earn points by translating before you can get something translated, so from a first glance it seems that you can't count on your text being translated in reasonable time. It can take months. Also, the site is mostly for short phrases as found in software applications – while it's possible to enter paragraphs of text, this will probably quickly overchallenge the goodwill of the uncompensated volunteers. The site also accepts special file formats for software i18n, but is not limited to that: there's also a textbox to paste the text you want translated [source, at "How do I create a project?"] I have to admit that I don't like the translators' interface of Ackuna too well: it's a good start, but for great usability a lot of tweaks have to be made. Like translating in lists (with tabbing), AJAX voting in lists (saving more page load times), a transactional one-point-per-word system where people have to earn points by translating before posting own projects, showing only entries without any submission while translating, etc..
  • Transfix.it. A software where humans proofread and fix machine-translated texts.
  • WikiTranslation. A site for gratis, community-generated translations which can be voted.
  • OneHourTranslation. Fast turnaround time of at most one hour to start and one hour per 200 words. But mostly too expensive for private use in forums etc. (0.06 EUR/word).

Some other interesting finds about translation include:

  • Linguanaut Free Translation. Translation is done by volunteers. Which means they are of course not compelled to do the job, there is no deadline, and one can't be sure when the job gets done. But for occasional, not time-critical translations it seems great. Not a good idea to exploit volunteer with high volume work, of course.
  • Free human translation at Translatorsbase.com. Only for single words and short phrases, but for these really useful. The translators get higher ranking by providing such free translations.
  • Gengo. Offering people-powered translation services.
  • Babylon Human Translation. By well-known translation software provider "Babylon".
  • TYWI Mobile Interpreter. Offers simultaneus human translation of speech, via a professional translator, connected by Internet.
  • Wikipedia on Telephone intepretation.







3 responses to “Where to get instant human translation for text?”

  1. Thanks for the write up on SpeakLike! That’s a clever way of getting your translations done real-time!

    We also offer a cool tool called SpeakLike Strings – which is an automated plug-in solution that keeps your web site or app continually translated as you make changes to them. You simply do your editing, like creating a blog entry or changing around your home page, and SpeakLike Strings recognizes a change was made, and kicks off a task to translate the changes into up to 36 languages and puts the translated material where you want it! We even make sure the text “fits” into the available space – buttons, titles, etc.

    Basically, we make it easy to translate just about anything and it’s both fast and cheap, so you can translate like crazy!

    I’d be delighted to give you a tour of the SpeakLike Platform, and any of our tools at your convenience, and give you some free credits to try it out yourself!


    Mark (@speaklike.com)

  2. Mark, thanks for the interesting additions! Just looked around the speaklike.com site and found you also have a WordPress connector there. I’m currently looking into a project that would require this functionality, but for Drupal. A natural choice there is the open source Lingotek module. Can SpeakLike services be acquired via that module? (If not yet, note that it seems to be as simple as implementing its LSP (language service provider) API interface, using your existing API.)

  3. Thanks for sharing! I prefer to Transfix.it because it lets you input text to be translated to and from English, French, Italian, Spanish, and German. The text will first be run through Google Translate to provide a roughly accurate translation. This rough translation will then be presented to the transfix.it community to tweak and adjust into a complete and correct translation of the original text.

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