Amazon Translate

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What is Amazon Translate?

Amazon Translate is a neural translation solution that uses machine learning to translate text from one language to another, either in real time or as part of a batch translation service. At the time of writing, Amazon Translate can translate languages into 75 languages. 


With Amazon Translate, you can translate everything from text to day-to-day messages and emails, to documents, transcripts, reports, research papers, articles, and social media posts, meaning that it is a versatile solution for diverse communication needs.

This definition will teach you how Amazon Translate works and how it can be applied in everyday life.

How Amazon Translate Works

Amazon Translate uses a range of technologies, including deep learning to process input text and generate a relevant output. Essentially, the solution uses a neural network to analyze the context of the source text, evaluating how the words in a sequence influence each other. 

This approach helps enable the solution to develop a more accurate translation than statistical and rule-based translation models, which only consider the context of a few words at a time. The end goal is to produce a translation that captures the original meaning and context of the input text. 

How to Use Amazon Translate

Users can access Amazon Translate by setting up an AWS Account and opening up the Amazon Translate console. It’s worth noting you can also access the tool via the AWS command line interface (AWS CLI) or via the Amazon Translate API.

When using the console you can translate up to 10,000 bytes of text, or HTML and Docx files.

  1. To begin a translation, select “Launch real-time translation” and choose your target language. The console will automatically select the source language but you can also select it manually.
  2. You can now start entering the text you want to translate into the text box on the left hand side of the screen. The translated output will then be shown on the right hand side.

If you want to translate a document, you can do so by navigating to the Translation panel and choosing the Documents tab.

Here you’ll be able to enter the source language and target language, while uploading a .html or .txt file to translate. You can also click on the “Download translation” button to download the translated document to your hard drive.

In scenarios where you want to translate larger volumes of text or automate translation workflows then it is best to use the API. Using the API is also a good idea if you want to integrate Amazon Translate with other AWS services. 

For instance, you can use Amazon Comprehend to extract entities, sentiment, and key phrases from unstructured text or add translations to existing workflows in AWS Lambda or AWS Glue.  

Amazon Translate Features

Amazon Translate offers a range of translation features that can be used to fulfill a wide range of use cases. Some of the top features offered by the service include:

  • Translate up to 75 different languages with up to 5,550 translation combinations.
  • Complete translations in real-time or batch translate word documents, PowerPoint presentations, Excel spreadsheets, text, and HTML files in bulk. 
  • Automatically identify the source language with high accuracy 
  • Use Active Custom Translation (ACT) to customize machine translation output 
  • Deploy Custom Terminology to determine how terms and names unique to an organization, topic, or industry are translated. 
  • All translations are encrypted and stored at rest in the AWS Region where the service is used.
  • Control user access to Amazon Translate via AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) permissions.

Use Cases

Amazon Translate Use Cases

Amazon Translate can be used to streamline and enhance a diverse range of workflows around translation. Some of the most useful high-level use cases include:

1. Automating Text Translation

Users and organizations can automatically translate high volumes of input text whether it’s in the form of documents, articles, blog posts, emails, messages, social media posts, reports, industry research, or transcriptions. The end result is that it takes less time to translate texts in multiple languages. 

2. Search and Process Text

With Amazon Translate’s API access capabilities, you can use a natural-language processing (NLP) service such as Amazon Comprehend to extract the sentiment of text in multiple languages.

For example, you could scan social media comments in different languages to get a better understanding of your target audience’s attitudes toward your brand, and search for certain keywords. 

3. Real-Time Contact Center Translations

Customer service or sales representatives can access Amazon Translate-powered translations while responding to customer requests in a chat, email, helpdesk or ticketing application. 

Real-time translations provide contact center agents with the ability to answer questions in multiple languages, and ultimately address problems faster. 

4. Creating Subtitles

Organizations can create custom workflows to translate text content taken from HTML documents to create captions for videos in multiple languages.

For example, senior AWS solutions architects Siva Rajamani and Raju Penmatcha used Amazon Translate asynchronous batch processing to translate video captions and subtitles in WebVTT and SRT files. 

5. Customize Machine Translations

Amazon Translate’s Active Custom Translation (ACT) capabilities allow users to customize how terms are translated. This includes determining how specific terms like brand names are translated, the response brevity, masking profane words, choosing the level of formality, and editing the overall style and tone of the response. 

Benefits of Amazon Translate

Automating and streamlining translations with Amazon Translate offers a number of core benefits to end users. These are summarized briefly below: 

Benefits Description
Reducing the amount of time taken to translate texts  Automatically translating texts reduces the amount of time a user needs to spend translating documents.  
Increasing translation quality Use of deep learning technologies results in highly-accurate translations that preserve the original intent of the source input.
Lower cost translation Free translations and cost-effective paid options provide an economical option for translating texts in bulk. 
Automated sentiment analysis Integrations with tools like Amazon Comprehend open the door to automatically analyzing the sentiment of input text in multiple languages.
Customizable end language translation Users can determine the style in which source texts are translated. 
Enhancing customer service Organizations can use automated translation to provide more comprehensive solutions and customer support to end users.  

Amazon Translate Pricing

Amazon Translate offers a pay-per-use pricing model. This means you pay based on how many characters are sent to the API for translation (including white space characters) per month. 

The organization offers a Free Tier which enables the user to translate up to 2 million characters per month for free for up to 12 months. There is also the option to purchase a paid coverage if you require higher volume.

Paid versions of Amazon Translate are outlined below: 

Translation Type  Summary  Pricing  Free Tier Options  
Standard Text Translation  Use machine translation in real-time  $15.00 per million characters  2 million characters per month for 12 months 
Asynchronous Batch Standard Document Translation  Translate documents (such as Txt, HTML, DOCx, PPTx, XLSx, Xliff files) stored in a folder in a Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) bucket.  $15.00 per million characters  2 million characters per month for 12 months 
Real-Time Document Translation   Translate documents (Txt, HTML, DOCx) while preserving formatting  $15.00 per million characters  No Free Tier available 
Real-Time Standard Document Translation (DOCx)  Use machine translation in real-time for DOCx documents.  $30.00 per million characters  No Free Tier available 
Asynchronous Batch Active Custom Translation  Create custom outputs by entering parallel data (PD) alongside your batch translation job request (supports Txt, HTML, DOCx, PPTx, XLSx, Xliff files). $60.00 per million characters  500,000 characters per month for 2 months 
Real-Time Active Custom Translation  Create custom outputs in real-time by entering PD with your batch translation job request  $60.00 per million characters or $0.02 per hour for hosting each PD  No Free Tier available. 


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Tim Keary
Technology Specialist
Tim Keary
Technology Specialist

Tim Keary is a freelance technology writer and reporter covering AI, cybersecurity, and enterprise technology. Before joining Techopedia full-time in 2023, his work appeared on VentureBeat, Forbes Advisor, and other notable technology platforms, where he covered the latest trends and innovations in technology.