Introduction and question about one of the translation rules

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<a href="/en/translator/tarag" class="userpopupinfo username" rel="user1519394">Tara_G</a>
Joined: 28.11.2021
Pending moderation

Hi, I'm Tara. Native Dutch, fluent English and currently self studying a bunch of languages (not the ones in my profile) because I have too much time. Since I still have too much time I figured I'd add some translations.

Now here's where my question comes in - I hope it's okay here, if it's better to ask elsewhere please let me know and I'll move the question there instead. I drafted a few translations in a word document, mostly just semi literal translations rather than ones maintaining rhythm and/or rhyme. However, I've found that if I go with the most basic correct translation they're actually a pretty close match to what google translate would give you (because sometimes google translate apparently actually works - who knew? I sure didn't). The only major differences are a few tenses I used, some word choices, and one or two figures of speech that I changed compared to the original English lyrics because literal translations wouldn't work in Dutch.

The rules relating to translation have the following section:

If any translations similar to Google Translate are found, they will be unpublished and you will be warned if you keep publishing translations of such quality.

What I guess I'm wondering is where the line is drawn when it comes to "similar to google translate"; does it apply to all translations that resemble the result that google translate would give you? And is "of such quality" about the resemblence to machine translations? Or more about the general quality that machine translations tend to have and are independently written, gramatically correct translations okay even if they do end up being very similar to machine translations? Is the process of checking automated based on similarity, or checked by a person for correctness rather than resemblance? And if resemblance is the issue, how should one "work around" that? Would it be better in that scenario to take more creative freedom in the translation (while still maintaining the original meaning) as opposed to going with a more literal translation?

TL;DR: Basically: should I be worried about the chance of receiving a warning if I submit something and my translations happen to be pretty close to google's ones?

Sorry for all the questions haha but I'd hate to put effort in translations just to get banned or something because google translate actually works for my language :')

Super Member
<a href="/en/translator/qaqqu" class="userpopupinfo username" rel="user1488234">Qaqqu</a>
Joined: 04.02.2021

Salutamu a Tara

The point isn't if the translation is made by Google Translate but is if the translation makes sense and it is consistent with the original text. Don't worry if Google Translate makes translations as you would, as long as the result is correct your post will be okay.

The reason for not using it is because a robot like it can't act like a human person, with his capacity of adapting concects by a language to another one, but in some cases (expecially for single words of short phrases) it can work quite well.

I'm not a moderator, so, if I'm wrong, please correct me.

Super Member
<a href="/en/translator/blackryder" class="userpopupinfo username" rel="user1429942">BlackRyder</a>
Joined: 07.08.2019

Hi Tara, welcome to LT!

It's not that Google Translate is entirely forbidden. As a tool for translating some single words, it's alright and fairly usable... to an extent. The problem or situation to which the rules and many moderators refer is that some users put the entire text or entire sentences in it, 'translate' them and then copy-paste them in here without realising GT won't actually do much in terms of conjugations, context and cultural nuances. From what I've seen (not only here in LT but also in my real-life work), this happens a lot with users who, despite not having proficiency in a certain language, for some reason insist on translating from or to it by using GT as their only tool. Most of the time, these results have a lot of mistakes, losses of sense, cultural inaccuracies and the like, to the extent of being unreadable even, thus 'cluttering' the site up, so to speak, and it's actually quite noticeable. Still, when the case arises, moderators and editors alike wait for all doubts, arguments and questions to be clarified before unpublishing a translation or issuing a warning.

I'll take the liberty to tag @AlmaBarroca and @Iíadan in case you have any more questions, and I'm sure they'd be able to expand on what's already been said due to their roles.

Personally, I would suggest you to not stick only to GT but also try to find some other tools, either online or physical ones, that may help you with your language combinations.

Moderator poromboessara 👨🏻‍🏫
<a href="/en/translator/alma-barroca" class="userpopupinfo username" rel="user1110108">Alma Barroca</a>
Joined: 05.04.2012

Welkom, Tara! Goedemorgen!

That often happens with direct lyrics. The problem with GT is: 1. 100% copies - isolate words or similar constructions are not a reason alone to unpublish; 2. translation doesn't make sense. There are also users who only add GT - and their work is unpublished because just about anyone interested could do that. You can rest assured because, if we have doubts regarding translations, we'll ask our peers for opinions.

Both Carlos and Alessio are correct, you can do as they said. In the past, I had a translation client that decided they would end my contract with them because they prefered GT (it sucks as I lost money, but they had a valid point - they didn't need extensive language classes or my services to do what they wanted, GT worked fine for that).

In case of doubt, don't hesitate in asking.

The best,

Senior Member
<a href="/en/translator/luis-silva-avlis" class="userpopupinfo username" rel="user1503622">Luis Silva Avlis</a>
Joined: 10.06.2021

Welcome to LT, Tara

The little I know about Dutch, it seems to be one of the closest languages to English, meaning machine translations between the two languages shouldn't stray too far away from what you desire, maybe that's what you're noticing

But machine translations can't deliver translations just as good between english and any other language, less so between two languages that are not english, an experience you'll eventually discover it by yourself soon enough

Moderator 🍬
<a href="/en/translator/l%C3%ADadan" class="userpopupinfo username" rel="user1109697">líadan</a>
Joined: 31.03.2012

Hello Tara,

1. The issue is mainly that users think they can copy/paste a GT output and call it a day. This site was created for real users who are fluent/native speakers of the languages they translate to and from (or have studied these languages). This site isn't a dumping ground.

2. All novices are welcome but must keep in mind that fluent/native speakers can and will correct them if they make mistakes, what better way to learn than through that?

3. GT outputs get undeserved 'Thanks' and even votes, if we wanted an GT outputs throughout the site, LT would have had the 'automated translation' option available for all lyrics and there would be no need for us translators.

4. You can use GT for words or to get a better understanding of simple lines or a sentence, not for an entire text.

Super Member
<a href="/en/translator/bluebird" class="userpopupinfo username" rel="user1483017">BlueBird</a>
Joined: 27.12.2020
Welcome aboard, Tara.

I think you have a point here. The wording of an applicable rule needs to be precise and unequivocal. "All short trees will be cut" begs the question, "what is called short?"." All trees less than 2 meters will be cut" is unequivocal and applicable. The rule may benefit from some rewording. We have users like [@Pietro Lignola] who are legal experts and have the necessary knowledge to discuss this in a professional capacity, if they wish so. I understand admins are the official body governing the rules, so I also tag them along [@LT].

Apart from quality issues in some machine translations, there is the issue of intellectual property. Non-copied translations here are considered original, the intellectual property of the owner. A machine translation can not be considered belonging to the poster. The same goes with the 'edited' machine translations (taking a machine translation and just changing a few things here and there). This usually happens when the user begins from the machine translation.

Super Member
<a href="/en/translator/treeoftoday244" class="userpopupinfo username" rel="user1106967">treeoftoday244</a>
Joined: 28.02.2012

The problem is that over the years Google has become so good that you actually can't tell whether something is GT or not. Personally, in some language combinations Google is better than I am. So today it's really difficult to say and proove what's actual real translation.

Super Member
<a href="/en/translator/dominique52" class="userpopupinfo username" rel="user1466113">Dominique52</a>
Joined: 09.08.2020


I follow the following method (rules) which may be a little long, but which can give good results, I believe

1 - I only translate Portuguese (Brazil) texts, into my native French.
Never the other way around, because even if I am fluent in Portuguese I am sure that a Brazilian would feel that my translation is not perfect.

2 - I always use 2 online translators: GT and DeepL.

3 - Then I read line by line the text and its translation. There are always corrections to be made to get a text that is even just reasonable (I don't say perfect)
I've only translated 90 songs but I've never found a text that doesn't deserve corrections.

4 - I then use a dictionary of the original language (Brazilian) to check the lexical field of a word, even if I think I know its translation, and I use a dictionary of French synonyms to better reproduce the lexical field of the word to translate.

5 - I then do an online research on what may have been said about the song.
I often find explanations or clarifications given by the author or by enlightened amateurs.

6 - Finally, I don't hesitate to add notes that help to clarify the author's thoughts on the song.


Super Member
<a href="/en/translator/cph1776" class="userpopupinfo username" rel="user1467452">cph1776</a>
Joined: 21.08.2020

I think we all agree that what we don't want is people dumping lyrics into GT (or Bing Translate, Yandex, etc.) then posting the result as a complete "translation." Even though the machine translators have gotten "smarter" over the past few years, and might do a good job with, say, a newspaper article or other prose, song lyrics or poetry still present problems (spelling, grammar, or usage modified to allow for rhyming/scanning, etc.).

On the other hand, native speakers and even admins have admitted to using GT to "touch up" translations, by translating a single word or short phrase...So no one's going to be kicked off LT for occasionally looking something up in GT...

But, if we rely strictly on native and C4-level speakers to translate songs, fewer songs would be translated. That's a particular problem with less-common languages.

What I would recommend, particularly for those whose knowledge of a given language is intermediate (not "native" but not an absolute beginner either), is:

* Instead of relying on GT, try the contextual translators, such as,,, or These services will accept both single words and short phrases, and provide human-translated examples of the word or phrase in context.

* Use dictionaries, both bilingual and single language, to explore the meaning of words. is good for this, and will accept both English and foreign words. is another possibility, although I haven't used it as much...

* Know parts of speech (noun, verb, adjective, phrase, etc.)

* Be familiar with verb conjugations and noun/adjective declensions. Again Wiktionary is good, there's also

* The Google search engine can help if you have questions about words, phrases, and usage: for example, search "shall vs. will" or "ser vs estar". etc. Also if you have two phrases that mean the same thing, check Google to see which is more commonly used...

* Install the spell check dictionary for the language(s) in your browser. Doing so will reduce the number of spelling mistakes.

* Language discussions on sites such as,,, or can be very helpful.

* And, of course, don't be afraid to ask questions in the language forums here on The native speakers are generally glad to help out a language learner.

Above all, try to put your heart and soul into your translations. When we translate songs and post them on a public site like this one, we're actually opening new doors between peoples and cultures.

Have fun and happy translating.

Nordic Enthusiast
<a href="/en/translator/somethingswell" class="userpopupinfo username" rel="user1509067">somethingswell</a>
Joined: 03.08.2021

The thing is, if your translation is that good such that no one would even question whether it was done by a machine or a human... then nobody's going to be looking it up to even find out that it's the same as what GT would give you. What makes it obvious is if the translation is overly literal and/or grammatically incorrect, or if it's inconsistent in tone. Those are things that machine translators may not do too well with. Machines also do better with some languages than others.

My two cents, though, is that if your translation is literally exactly what GT would give you, then it probably could stand to receive a little more TLC, meaning that it likely doesn't sound natural to a native speaker just because it may be technically correct. So you probably could put a little more personal touch to it than that. But that's not what the rule is saying, the rule is just there to stop people from spamming garbage machine translations that barely if at all convey the meaning of the song.