I thought 'You got to be kidding me!' when I read the following sentence from "Breaking down the language barriersix years in:"

In early 2006, we rolled out our first languages: Chinese, then Arabic.

In case you don't know, I am a native Chinese speaker and I can tell you one thing: Chinese-English translation by Google Translate is just terrible. By my standard, there are only two results, acceptable and unacceptable for translation. There is no such thing like a value in between 0.0 and 1.0 when evaluating the quality of a translation in real life. Either you understand or don't. 56.17% accuracy, what the heck does that actually mean?

After I read that sentence, I copied the rest of post and got a Chinese translation from Google Translate. The translation is still bad, I hadn't tried Google Translate for a while. The sentence reads like a collection of words you are familiar with, but when you put them altogether in a sentence, not much sense at all. You have to guess the entire meaning by reading a word or a phrase, section by section, and you can still get lost in translation, literally, but in bad one.

Eventually, I went back to read the original English version.

I can't speak on other language translation since English and Chinese are the only two I know. But I have seen Korean translation wasn't considered as good, either. I was watching a live stream when an American asked Koreans for a translation and asked about the translation by Google Translate.

It seems Google Translate could have good results with Indo-European languages (or just between Germanic or same branch). I had once asked a German about an English translation of a German song by Google Translate, he said it was okay.

If you need a translation of a word, Google Translate might be okay, but still not for Chinese translation, it's like a land mine and you don't even know you are dead already. The difference is huge between any two languages, or where do you think those funny Engrish signs from?

Even in between English dialects, spelling, phrases, and so have already had some significant differences. Well, Google Translate doesn't have dialects choices, but seems to understand.

Machine translation hasn't reached the practical level in my humble opinion, "breaking down the language barrier," to be perfectly honest, it's still a big chuck of rock. I don't want to diminish Google Translate, but it's simply a fact. Needless to read how much effort they have put in, in order to understand the computation complexity is high. Just think about how much time a human has to put in for being a good translator.

To be honest, I don't expect seeing much improvement for next decade, machine translation has been around since 90s, that's first time I had used a portable device which can perform a full sentence translation not just a single word or phrase, which was a great selling point at the time even it could only do well with very short sentences. It might be around when computer was able to display multiple languages.

If you are using Google Translate for serious business (not literally), use it at your own risk. But I would advice hiring a real human translator for the time being.