New SDL translation service provides quick machine translations for free

Also offers free language lessons

SDL introduced a free online translation service this week that makes it simple to get machine translations of documents or text. It's called

You can enter some text, copy and paste it, or upload a document up to 5MB in size. Choose a language, and the service translates it automatically for you on the fly. The amount of time it takes depends on the size of the document. A sentence or two is virtually instantaneous.  

I count 42 languages that are available.

As I write this, I'm testing the service by uploading a single document that's around 500 words. Know that it's free, but the longer the document, the longer you have to wait. The progress bar has barely moved after more than 10 minutes, so don't necessarily expect fast results.

The website also offers free language lessons and you can get quick quotes if you want human translations instead.

SDL CEO Mark Lancaster explained in a statement that the idea behind the site is to offer quick access to translation services and to simplify what--to this point--has been a complex process. "Our business goal is to provide technology and services that help simplify global customer engagement. The site eliminates barriers to communication [and] dramatically simplifies the online user experience."

SDL clearly recognizes that companies don't need translations that take hours or days, and that they don't want to jump through hoops to find these services. When you have customers, partners and colleagues spread out across the world, and speaking different languages, you need translations all the time and you probably need them fairly quickly.

But they also recognize that machine translation might not be for everyone, and customers who want more careful translation have easy access to a quote to figure out the cost to get it done.

It may not be a perfect solution for everyone, but it's a simple, clean site with several useful translation services in one location, and that's a good start.

For more information:
- see the SDL press release

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