Type of site
|Neural machine translation|
|Available in||31 languages|
|Headquarters||Cologne, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany|
|Key people||Jaroslaw Kutylowski|
|Launched||28 August 2017|
DeepL Translator is a neural machine translation service that was launched in August 2017 and is owned by Cologne-based DeepL SE. The translating system was first developed within Linguee and launched as entity DeepL. It initially offered translations between seven European languages and has since gradually expanded to support 31 languages.
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 than by 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 they have so far not been used by the competition because of their weaknesses compared to recurrent neural networks. The weaknesses of 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 limit of 1,500 characters per translation. Microsoft Word and PowerPoint files in Office Open XML file formats (.docx and .pptx) and PDF files can also be translated.
It offers paid subscription DeepL Pro, which has been available since March 2018 and includes application programming interface access and a software plug-in for computer-assisted translation tools, including SDL Trados Studio. Unlike the free version, translated texts are stated to not be saved on the server; also, the character limit is removed. The monthly pricing model includes a set amount of text, with texts beyond that being calculated according to the number of characters.
- Chinese (simplified)
- English (American and British)
- Norwegian (Bokmål)
- Portuguese (Brazilian and European)
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 and offered translations between English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Polish and Dutch. At its launch, it claimed to have surpassed its competitors in 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, and it is also financed by advertising on its sister site, linguee.com.
Support for Portuguese and Russian was added on 5 December 2018. In July 2019, Jaroslaw Kutylowski became the CEO of DeepL GmbH and restructured the company into a Societas Europaea in 2021. 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 the company claimed to have surpassed the aforementioned competitors as well as Baidu and Youdao. Then, 13 more European languages were added in March 2021. On 25 May 2022, support for Indonesian and Turkish was added, and support for Ukrainian was added on 14 September 2022. In January 2023, the company reached a valuation of 1 billion euro and became the most valued startup company in Cologne - at the end of the month, support for Korean and Norwegian (Bokmål) was also added.
In November 2022, DeepL launched a tool to improve monolingual texts in English and German, called DeepL Write. In December the company removed access and informed journalists that it was only for internal use and that DeepL Write would be launched in early 2023. The public beta version was finally released on January 17, 2023.
Reception of DeepL Translator in 2017 was generally positive, with TechCrunch appreciating it for the accuracy of its translations and 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.
The press noted that it had far fewer languages available for translation than competing products. A 2018 paper by the University of Bologna evaluated the Italian-to-German translation capabilities and found the preliminary results to be similar in quality to Google Translate. In September 2021, Slator remarked that the language industry response was more measured than the press and noted that it is still highly regarded.
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