Type of site
|Neural machine translation|
|Available in||26 languages|
|Headquarters||Cologne, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany|
|Key people||Jaroslaw Kutylowski|
|Launched||28 August 2017|
DeepL Translator is a neural machine translation service launched in August 2017 and owned by DeepL SE, based in Cologne. The translating system was first developed within Linguee and launched as entity DeepL. It initially offered translations between seven European languages and was gradually expanded to support 26 languages with 650 language pairs.
Additionally, approximations of language equivalence are proposed among all of those languages, using a two-step process via an English pivot. The translator is offered for free with limitations, which can be removed with a paid subscription. The company also licenses its translation application programming interface.
The service uses a proprietary algorithm with convolutional neural networks (CNNs) that have been trained with the Linguee database. According to the developers, the service uses a newer, improved architecture of neural networks, which results in a more natural sound of translations compared to competing services. The translation is said to be generated using a supercomputer that reaches 5.1 petaflops and is operated in Iceland with hydropower. In general, CNNs are slightly more suitable for long, coherent word sequences, but have so far not been used by the competition due to their weaknesses compared to recurrent neural networks. The weaknesses at DeepL are compensated for by supplemental techniques, some of which are publicly known.
Translator and subscription
The translator can be used for free with a 5,000 characters limit per translation. Microsoft Word and PowerPoint files in Office Open XML file formats (.docx and .pptx) and PDF files can also be translated.
DeepL Pro is a paid subscription for professional translators, companies and developers, which has been available since March 2018 and offers an application programming interface and a software plug-in for computer-assisted translation tools, including SDL Trados Studio. Unlike the free version, translated texts are not saved on the server and the character limit is removed. The monthly pricing model includes a set amount of text, with texts beyond this calculated according to the number of characters.
The translating system was first developed within Linguee by a team led by Chief technology officer Jaroslaw Kutylowski in 2016. It was launched as DeepL Translator on 28 August 2017, offering translations between English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Polish and Dutch. With the launch, it claimed to have surpassed its competitors in self-conducted blind tests and BLEU scores, including Google Translate, Amazon Translate, Microsoft Translator and Facebook's translation feature.
With the release of DeepL in 2017, Linguee's company name was changed to DeepL GmbH. In 2017, it was also financed by advertising on its sister site linguee.com. In July 2019, Jaroslaw Kutylowski succeeded Gereon Frahling as CEO, while Frahling became lead researcher. In January 2021, the company changed its form from Gesellschaft mit beschränkter Haftung to Societas Europaea.
Portuguese and Russian languages support was added on 5 December 2018. Translation software for Microsoft Windows and macOS was released in September 2019. Support for Chinese (Simplified) and Japanese was added on 19 March 2020, which it claimed had surpassed aforementioned competitors as well as Baidu's and Youdao. 13 more European languages were added in March 2021.
Reception of DeepL Translator in 2017 has been generally positive, with TechCrunch appreciating it for the accuracy of its translations, stating that it was more accurate and nuanced than Google Translate, and Le Monde thanking its developers for translating French text into more 'French-sounding' expressions. A news article from the website of the Dutch television channel RTL Z stated that DeepL Translator "offers better translations […] when it comes to Dutch to English and vice versa". An Italian newspaper la Repubblica and a Latin American website "WWWhat's new?" showed praise as well. In 2020, Japanese website Gigazine found the Japanese translation to be accurate, even when the text was mixed with dialects.
Press noted it had far fewer languages available for translation than competing products. It also lacks a website translation feature and free app integrations. A 2018 paper by the University of Bologna evaluated the Italian to German translation capabilities and found the preliminary results to be in similar quality to Google Translate. In September 2021, Slator remarked that the language industry response was more measured than the press, while noting it is still highly regarded.
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