The first question you might ask yourself is why not just use Google, isn’t that one of the best online translators? While Google Translate is very good and improving constantly it is not a translator you can access from China. Obviously, we are talking about the Great Firewall, which is blocking a lot of international websites for Chinese users – Google, Facebook and Twitter are just some of them.
This created the need for their own search engines and Chinese translators, or “fanyi” (翻译 – translate). In this article we will look at the different options you have available if you ever find yourself in China or if you are looking for a reliable Chinese translator.
Baidu – Hundred Times
Founded on January 1st, 2000 in Beijing China, Baidu is now the biggest search engine in China. Similar to how we “google” stuff, in China, they “baidu” it. It is also one of the most popular Asian translators and often gets mentioned when you are looking for machine translation for any Asian language. The services that Baidu offers do not stop there. Among some of them are a mapping service, an online encyclopedia, cloud storage and even a very popular forum called Tieba.
If you want to compare Baidu and Google as online translators, we have the perfect article for you!
Sogou – Search Dog
Launching a little after Baidu in 2004, Sogou is the 2nd most popular search engine in China. Literally translated as a “search dog”, their algorithm comes very close to Google’s by placing its importance on unique and quality content.
In recent years Sogou has been investing in translation, with one of its more popular products being the Sogou Portable Translator which works even offline for up to 42 languages. However, their online translator is free to use and gets high praises for its English to Chinese (or vice versa) translation accuracy. Definitely, a great choice if you are looking for a quick translation.
In September 2021 they became a subsidiary of Tencent, another Chinese tech giant.
Tencent – Galloping Message
The only company on our list that is not actually a search engine. Tencent is a technology company, most famous for its website qq.com, which is China’s own version of Facebook. You can also find a myriad of other media services, including mobile apps, video games and music. In fact, they offer the majority of music services in China and are the world’s biggest game company!
Looks like they are the best in everything they do, and for such a large technology company it would be strange if they did not offer an online translator among all things. With such a history behind its back, you can be sure that the company offers quality translation. A company of this calibre will definitely try to bring the best service to its users.
Youdao – There Is a Way
We are back to search engines, but this time with a twist – Youdao stems away from the traditional algorithm and places its value and uniqueness on educating its users. By putting “learning” as its utmost priority, you can be sure they are also there to break the language barrier. One of the things they excel at is translation. Youdao is famous for its cloud storage, shopping assistant, dictionary and as of late – the dictionary pen. The pen is a simple device that allows you to scan and translate text in real-time, use voice assistance, or even let it listen to any speech which it will translate back to you. Youdao’s own neural machine translation places its importance on translating like a human, not a machine and many people swear by its accuracy.
Machine Translation Is Far From Perfect
As you can see there are many choices for Chinese translators online. However, they are machine translation algorithms that still lack the logic and context of human translation. It will be amazing to see in the future how these translators will improve, trying to surpass one another and using their own technology behind their algorithms, but one thing will remain the same for probably a very long time and that is the undeniably superior translation of actual human beings. For a quick translation, or maybe when trying to understand just the gist of it online translators will always be a good choice, but for anything else, it is best to get in touch with a professional translation agency.