Business relationships are stronger than ever thanks to developments in machine translation.
It wasn’t very long ago that language barriers placed significant hurdles between companies and their customers. Firms would have to hire expert translators for overseas customer service or meetings with foreign business partners. These days, buyers and sellers strike deals in mere minutes, thanks to tools like Alibaba Translate.
If you’re looking to explore new territories or outsource manufacturing, machine translation could help you find a great business partner. We’ll cover some of the benefits behind machine translation tools like Alibaba Translate and show you how to use them effectively.
How does machine translation work?
There are two main approaches to machine translation development: rule-based programming and statistical learning. In a rule-based programming approach, linguists and software developers create frameworks for how sentences work in different languages. For example, adjectives like colour always come before the noun in English, but come after the noun in Spanish. Finished machine translation programmes work by converting text inputs using these rules.
The statistical approach is slightly more complex. It depends on a lot of translation sample data, which allows the machine translation programme to learn language patterns. Research teams manually gather language-centric information from a number of sources, and computers scan social media and professional publications to get up to date information on language usage.
Nowadays, most machine translation teams combine both approaches to develop highly sophisticated and capable machine translation platforms.
What are the limits of machine translation tools?
Much of language relies on context, which computers sometimes struggle with. That’s why machine translation tools have difficulty translating things like:
Common phrases and slang
Countries, and even specific regions within nations, have their own sayings and phrases.
Unfortunately, some simply don’t exist in other languages. So, although you could translate a phrase to any other language word for word, most don’t work since the meaning is (quite literally) lost in translation.
Nuance and suggestions
Humans can talk about something without actually referencing it or deliver a topic in a softer way than expected. Doing so relies on a shared understanding of related words/concepts, and these same relationships may not be present in other languages.
You may find that although a translated word has a similar meaning, it fails to capture the idea you were trying to communicate fully.
What’s the best way to use machine translation tools?
It’s best to work within your limitations and use a more neutral communication approach when you speak to potential business partners or suppliers.
Use sentences that communicate a single, clear idea and avoid cluttering your text input with polite ramblings or different tenses. For example, “What might you charge for this?” is a more complex (if polite) way of saying “How much do you charge?”.
Navigating these small language differences successfully can help you break through the language barrier and land those all-important deals.
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What features does Alibaba Translate have?
Alibaba Translate is a machine translation tool available on services like Alibaba.com, Aliexpress, Lazada, and more. Alibaba Translate, which launched in 2016, can currently handle 21 different languages, including English, Mandarin, Spanish, French, Italian, Arabic, Thai, Indonesian and Vietnamese.
Alibaba also has a “detect language” feature, so if you’re not sure which language a customer or client is using, don’t worry: Alibaba Translate automatically converts the text into your native language, and vice versa.
What are the benefits of Alibaba Translate?
Like other machine translation tools, Alibaba Translate is entirely automated and works in real-time, meaning you can communicate with customers or sellers quickly — and for free. As a result, you can reduce your overheads and waiting times because you don’t have to rely on professional translators.
Alibaba Translate has key advantages over other solutions like Google Translate. Firstly, it’s more familiar to certain businesses. China and other Asian countries have their own internet ecosystems, so platforms like Google aren’t as widely used. Therefore, Chinese business partners typically don’t use Google Translate to facilitate business relationships.
On another positive note, Alibaba Translate is integrated across all of Alibaba’s services, so it’s highly versatile. Alibaba Translate helps customers by providing multilingual search results (showing a larger pool of products) and automatically generates customs information, aiding business operations across borders.
Altogether, Alibaba Translate is a powerful machine translation tool that you should consider when exploring new markets.
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