In the review of one of my jobs by a Senior Translator, I was cited as not correctly translating "casi decisivi" by writing "decisive cases". In the context it seemed appropriate. Should I use Google Translate as a reference for words I don't know? I find that sometimes, it's really up to the translator to determine the meaning of certain phrases. But I guess in the end, it's up to the Senior Translators to decide the meaning?
Should I use Google Translate as a reference for words I don't know?
I'll be honest... I use Google translate as a kind of "first line" for translation, because it's quicker than my dictionary, and faster and more accurate than my brain (since I don't have the opportunity to practice French on a daily basis outside of MyGengo). However, I also treat Google with the same level of credibility that I give to Wikipedia. Google translate can be extremely wrong in some cases! If there's even the slightest question in my mind, I look it up in the dictionary or research in other places. For extremely short jobs, this can be difficult, but in the end I think you just have to do the best translation that you can. We all make mistakes now and then, but as long as you're paying attention and working hard to try to avoid them, they will hopefully be minimal!
I'll be honest, I don't know how good a source for translations Google Translate is because I have actually never used it. For single words, I always use http://www.wordreference.com . It displays different possible results arranged by topic, and also shows links to forum discussions regarding the word of which the translation you are looking for that might come in handy. Even more useful, the site has an add-on for your browser that, once installed, makes a link pop up whenever you double-click on a word. So, if you see a word of which the meaning you don't know or are not sure, you simply double-click on it, clic on the link that will pop up, and it takes you straight to the word's translation on Wordreference
Yeah, my system has changed since I responded to this two years ago. Interesting to see how I've grown as a translator! :D I generally use larousse.com to look up words I don't know, now, unless it's some sort of slang that doesn't show up there. Google translate sometimes has slang translations that no other source has, but if I use it at all, I double-check it by Googling the same phrase to see if I can confirm the translation.
The other thing that Google and Google translate can help with is identifying typos! Since French isn't my native language, sometimes a typo isn't immediately obvious, especially if the topic is outside of what I 'usually' work on. Both Google and Google translate have a very helpful "Did you mean...?" that pops up if the word isn't in their dictionary. You can't trust it 100%, but it's useful in the same way that Word spell check can be useful in helping you find a spelling for a word, if you use it properly. Again, I always try to verify it through other sources (sometimes the word/phrase is just obscure slang, netspeak, or a dialect I'm unfamiliar with), but it is occasionally a helpful tool.