Translation and Language Industry Observations

The popularity and usage of free translation programs is rising. More and more translation software products are being announced every year. And more and more companies are using these apps to translate a wide range of content. The quality and reliability of machine translation is also improving steadily, which is another reason for the increasing popularity.

Most everyone has heard of the most widely used translation apps. This includes Google Translate, Bing Microsoft Translator, DeepL and Yandex. But there are many other programs that you may never have used or heard of. Some of these programs are good alternatives to the better known apps and some of them even offer languages which you can’t find on Google. Ready? Here goes.


Papago is a relative newcomer to the world of machine translation. It is owned by the South Korean Internet giant Naver Corporation. Papago is available both as a website version and as a mobile app. It supports only about a dozen languages, but specializes in Asian languages. And with good reason, as Naver controls over 70% of Internet searches in South Korea and is also a major force in Japan. Papago is a good option when you need free translation of Asian languages and should be considered to be a good alternative to Google Translate for Korean, Japanese and Thai. Papago can be used to translate websites, and offers free, one-click translation of major news sites in South Korea, Japan and China. Papago also offers document translation from English to Korean and from Korean to English.

IBM Watson

When people think of IBM, they tend to wax nostalgic about the 20th century. IBM used to be THE big tech company and dominated for years. They are still a giant company but the common perception is that Microsoft ate their lunch in the 1980s and have never looked back. But it seems that IBM has its own translation tool and appears to be on par with Google and Bing in terms of quality. And while it does not support quite as many languages, Watson translates from and into over 50 languages, which is quite respectable. It is a paid API, but they offer a free demo version of the IBM Watson translator.


Hailing from Lugano, which is in the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland, IdiomaX has been around for a while. They only support French, Italian and Spanish and all possible combinations between these language pairs. The Spanish language that IdiomaX translates is Castillian Spanish, which may make IdiomaX a good choice when translating materials for Spain. They also provide a number of other free language tools.


Hailing from Hong Kong, TranslateFX only supports Simplified and Traditional Chinese. But it specializes in Legal and Financial texts. It is therefore a good alternative when seeking to translate specialized texts for use in China, Taiwan and Hong Kong.


This is a free, open-source translation program. It supports some of the more obscure languages spoken in Spain such as Aranese, Galician and Aragonese. It also supports some languages which you can’t find on Google such as Breton and Arpitan.

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