Text translation with ChatGPT: Context is key

ChatGPT is as versatile as a Swiss Army knife. You can use the handy tool for all kinds of boring or everyday tasks. One of these things is text translation. A chatbot doesn’t do this as dryly as Google Translate, for example. No, ChatGPT has more to offer.

Since ChatGPT has now been trained on a large amount of text, context, and different languages, we can also use the chatbot as Translation machine. Of course we have other apps and software for that. But thanks to this training, the program provides unprecedented flexibility. You can only achieve this if you provide the robot with a helping hand, with the necessary context. That’s why in this article we’ll tell you exactly how you can use ChatGPT for translations.

The big advantage of ChatGPT over other translation services is that this tool provides an interactive window that allows you to fine-tune the translation. For example, using Google Translate, you can enter a sentence and a translation will be produced for it. That’s it. But with a chatbot like ChatGPT, you can point out what else is important for a given text. You can also adjust the tone or style of the subtitles, and even take rhymes and the like into account.

Provide ChatGPT context

Translation using ChatGPT is simple. You open the chatbot, give it a text, and ask if it can translate it. By giving the tool more context, you can determine the direction of the translated lines. As a result, the intent of the sentence can change and may better match exactly what you mean. But you need to know roughly what to expect. It is important that you use specific terms or words that indicate the topic of the text (part).

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You can then take into account how other people construct sentences or use words in particular countries. Indicating that the translated sentence should be understood by a person from a specific country, without any noise on the line. This way, ChatGPT can (as much as possible) take the culture of that place into account. If you read an article in another language, about a medical condition for example, make it clear that the text is about that condition.

The more linguistically distant languages ​​are, the more important context becomes. Dutch, German and Swedish are very similar. But not Dutch, Russian and Hindi. A command like “translate”. [deze zin] “So that someone in Russia can understand it” is a complete start. You can then adjust successive answers if the translation turns out to be inaccurate. To be on the safe side, also keep other translation engines handy to check (basic) things.

It’s also a good idea to indicate exactly what type of text is in question. Is it a poem, a song, a financial document, or a scientific article? All of this may be important for ChatGPT to prepare a good translation. You can then use a sentence like “translate”. [dit gedicht] To the Dutch.” You can also indicate at the end of the sentence the type of text. ‘Translates.’ [deze tekst] To Dutch. “It’s about the financial report.” The chatbot might recognize the text itself.

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Specific style and words

It can happen – due to the nature of the translated text – that the translation becomes too dry, technical or otherwise unreadable. If you’re translating a legal or financial document that can sometimes leave you scratching your head, you can add a task like “Translate” [deze tekst] into Dutch in understandable terms. You can also add that the original message should be preserved. This way you can also understand news reports from other languages ​​better.

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For this sort of thing, in addition to ‘understood terms’ or ‘understood language’, you can also use words like ‘for children from group 6’. As long as you know what your target audience is, you can take ChatGPT into your own hands and tell them what you need. The chatbot takes over from there. The resulting text is easier to understand, but may not be ready for publication or teaching immediately. Therefore, always carefully read what ChatGPT produces to avoid strange errors.

Furthermore, it is important to take regional differences into account. This has nothing to do with cultural differences. For example, in the United States they use the word “soccer” to refer to a sport similar to rugby. But in Great Britain that means soccer, which in the United States they call “soccer.” In your leadership, you can distinguish between speaker or listener, so that Englishmen and Americans will always understand you when you just mean football.

Take the shape into account

Aside from context, style and cultural differences, we also often have to deal with the form of the text. Some texts should be informational, while others should be entertaining. Then we talk about songs, poems and more. In such texts, words and sentences are chosen deliberately. For example, because they rhyme, or because they fit together well. But you already understand: the text or meaning often doesn’t come out well when you translate it one to one.

If you translate text that contains humor, puns, or rhymes, you can safely assume that they don’t work in other languages ​​(when they’re so far apart). ChatGPT can bridge the gap between languages, but unfortunately only partially. Initially, the chatbot will provide straightforward translation, but without rhyme or humor. In the case of “No matter how quickly you lie, the truth will always be caught”, you get something like “No matter how quickly you lie, the truth will always be caught out”.

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It’s not wrong, but this rhyme gives the saying more character. In this case, you can ask ChatGPT if they can translate the text while keeping the rhyme. Although this translation is not perfect, it is closer to the original. We now come to a sentence like “Although the lie was quick, it is still the truth that brings about change.” Not a perfect translation, but it’s funny. You may unexpectedly come across some creative sentences on ChatGPT; But read everything carefully then.


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Winton Frazier

 "Amateur web lover. Incurable travel nerd. Beer evangelist. Thinker. Internet expert. Explorer. Gamer."

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