Automatic Thai machine translations online
We use real Thai translators for accurate, reliable translations
We do not employ software "machine" automatic translators. The machine translations between Thai and English are usually quite poor in conveying the same meaning.
The best machine translations between two European languages usually work well, whether online or software. European languages come from similar language groups, quite unlike Asian languages. A lot of money has been invested in machine translations between European languages, there is considerable competition on both sides of the border, and the general customer standards of quality are higher.
English-Thai software translators have been developed on the Thai side of the border. Almost all of these are English to Thai, not Thai to English. (A good way to spot a cheap ripoff translator is that they offer English to Thai translation, but not Thai to English.)
Thai language software dictionaries or electronic dictionaries
For translating words, there are some good English-Thai and Thai-English software dictionaries.
For translating sentences and documents, that is a different matter. There are programs which attempt to translate English to Thai, but they are woefully inadequate for anything except the most casual and economically insignificant applications. Thai to English translators are even worse.
Major differences between Thai and English complicate machine translation
Part of the problem is the vast differences in vocabulary, style and structure between the two languages. Beyond that, in both languages it is common for the same spelled word to have multiple meanings, often quite different. Thai words do not have Latin or Germanic roots. The particular meaning of a word must be chosen in the context of the sentence, which means the non-Latin, non-Germanic roots problem is compounded. Moving between a European and Asian language is a major challenge for a computer translation. The result is that the wrong meaning of a word is often given, creating confusion.
On top of that, the Thai language has no spacing between the words, sothatitliterallylookslikethis. Thais are accustomed to this because they have learned their language all their life, but imported Western software algorithms have yet to handle "word break" well enough to even get past step 2 of Thai to English translation.
In fact, if your computer isn't already equipped with the Thai fonts in the proper way, then a machine translator will not work at all with your setup, and you're not past step 1.
Other major differences between Germanic languages like English, and Thai, include no articles, i.e., "a", "an" or "the", no tenses, e.g., "am going", "will be going", "would have gone" (Thai handles future and past differently), different word orders, e.g., "car red big", instead of "big red car", and the use of so-called polite particles, which are additional words that change the tone or "feeling" of a statement or request which have no direct equivalent in English.
Thai machine translation can result in incomprehensible text
An example of a machine translation might be something like the following:
once translated literally to the following in the Thai language
We complete possession beneath consideration offer open new straight drawing about...
Try presenting that communique to your Thai executives overseas! Or even your girlfriend. You may see pretty Thai coming out of a machine translator and think it's good, and wishful thinking about whether it's sufficient may promote laziness, but the reality is that you're probably sending a poor communication.
Thai translation software development hindered by rampant software piracy
Further undercutting the development of translation software in Thailand is the rampant overt sales of illegal copies of software, which takes away economic support for Thai software developers, including for language machine translators.
Even the companies that create less complex programs such as Thai-English dictionaries, non-Thai Windows add-on or plug-in programs to add Thai fonts and typing abilities (including punctuation below the line), and other popular mass market applications are struggling financially. Development of software for sentence translation requires many times more work than for a dictionary or a font and keyboard module.
"Look, I want free online Thai translation and I want it NOW!"
OK, OK, having warned you of the perils of free online machine Thai translation, here are your options:
Parsit, from NECTEC - for free online English-to-Thai translation. Basically, little more than word-for-word substituion. An admirable effort, but the Thai output will leave most Thai speakers scratching their heads in confusion.
www.Thai2English.com - for free online Thai-to-English "translation". This is really an online dictionary designed to look up and provide definitions for every word in a line or sentence of Thai entered into its search engine. A highly recommended general-purpose dictionary and adequate for simple automatic "translation" jobs, like translating the equivalent of "I love you" or "The sky is blue" from Thai into English.
Real solution: use qualified, experienced and inexpensive Thai translators
Because the cost of labor is less expensive in Thailand, translations are usually done the proper way -- manually. Why do anything important any other way?
In our company, the translator first reads or skims the entire document to understand its overall meaning. Then the translator reads the document paragraph by paragraph, more or less. Translation is not a rote, sequential task done sentence by sentence, or word by word. (This is another way that machine translations fail.) Not only sentences but entire paragraphs may be rewritten as a whole in Thai style.
Thus, the choice is usually not what software to use, but what people or company to use for a translation. But just like software, your choice depends upon the kinds of features and level of quality you want, and your application may determine the price you are willing to pay and the kind of service you expect.
We also provide independent Thai translation "quality assurance"
Sometimes, it is worth running a translation past a third party. We have seen expats with translations in hand which are clearly just machine translations which were done automatically (in just a few seconds) and then printed using a beautiful font. Not too surprisingly, we have occasionally found that they actually paid some quasi-establishment for that, at a very cheap price. They were impressed with appearances only because they are illiterate in Thai. Unfortunately, the illiterate often get ripped off (and sometimes not just because it is a machine translation). We can handle requests for double-checking and quality assurance.
We offer different prices for different kinds of services, e.g., certified translations, legal contracts, technical manuals, or just love letters.
Contact us about real, not machine, Thai English language translations
Please feel free to send an e-mail to (easy to remember!) or alternatively, use our contact page.
Please note: we do not provide free translation online, e.g., "Hi! What's Thai for 'I love you'?" Such requests will simply be ignored. Serious translation inquiries only.
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