There are several free, online translation services which will do a Chinese translation of your English documents. Most of them have various Chinese translation services, such as website translation, Chinese translation of uploaded documents, or translation of text copied or typed into a text box.
Getting The Best Chinese Translation
When you use a free Chinese translation service, the document or website is translated by a computer program. Unfortunately, computers don't really understand human languages, so your Chinese translation may end up as gibberish.
Computers do a fairly good job of translating individual words, but have limitations when translating complex sentences. Knowing about these limitations, however, can help you get the best Chinese translation possible.
Chinese Translation Formatting
When it comes to computer translation, the simpler the better. If you stick to Subject – Verb – Object sentences, you have the most chance of getting an understandable Chinese translation.
Even so, some Chinese translation services are better than others. Take for example, the sentence "It is hot today." Google translated this as an acceptable 今天天氣很熱 / 今天天气很热 (jīntiān tiānqì hěn rè.) Reverso came up with a ridiculous 这是热门 (zhè shì rèmén). Reverso only offers simplified characters, so that, together with a nonsense translation, puts them at the bottom of the list – don't use it.
Another bad Chinese translation of "It is hot today" came from Transwhiz, which offered 它今天很熱 / 它今天很热 (tā jīntiān hěn rè). This word-for-word translation is not grammatically correct.
Several websites, including Yahoo Babelfish came up with 天气今天熱的 / 天气今天热的 (tiānqì jīntiān rè de). This can be understood, but is a clumsy use of the Mandarin language.
Many Translations, Few Engines
Despite the relatively large number of Chinese translation websites, there seems to be just a few translation engines that power them. For example, Google Translate is used by:
Most of these sites do not offer any advantage over the Google Translate site, so why bother using them? Google translate has a nice auto-update feature that translates as you type, and it also shows you the Pinyin Romanization of the Chinese characters.
MDBG Chinese English Dictionary
The one standout of all the Google Translate copycats is the MDBG Chinese English Dictionary. Although the translations are powered by Google, The MDBG dictionary adds to this with a list of all the words in the sentence, each with definitions, sound clips and additional links for character details.
All of these extra features are ideal for the Mandarin student, but if you are simply interested in a Chinese translation, the Google site is the best choice.
Good Chinese Translation
Computer translation will only get you so far. It may provide an understandable translation, as long as you simplify the original English text. But the only way to get a proper Chinese translation is to hire a professional translator, preferably someone who is a native Mandarin speaker and who partners with a native English speaker.