How Accurate Is Google Translate With Internationalized Domain Names?

For those of you that are new to this field, Internationalized Domain Names, or “IDN” to keep it short, are domain names printed in a non-Latin script like Cyrillic or Chinese and attached to Latin domain extensions like Com or Net. No, these aren’t the new non-Latin extensions you’ve been hearing about like the Cyrillic extension. This is just more of the same old Com, Dick or Harry! Sorry, I couldn’t resist that!

IDN are a wonderful way to talk to people in their own language and script. Even if your domain name is only forwarded to your English language website, at least you have shown an interest and an attempt to communicate in another language. An effort that is appreciated world-wide and often rewarded.

But if you don’t speak the language, and you can’t write or type in the language’s particular script, you need to get help. Google Translate is a great way to find this help. But be careful. While Google Translate does a good job of translating whole pages so that you can make sense of them, it often misinterprets a single word or short phrase; and it’s single words and short phrases that make up the majority of domain names. This writer, for instance, is named “mike.” When he asked Google Translate to render “Mike’s” in Russian Cyrillic, it translated it as “microphones.” And when asked for the word “domain” in Cyrillic script, Google rendered it as the Cyrillic version of “regions.” Thankfully a Russian speaker pointed this out before the script was registered as an IDN.

Internationalized Domain Names are a great way to communicate with customers in their own languages and scripts. It never hurts to try. But most of us speak only one language fluently and write with one script, Latin. We need help. Google Translate is a wonderful aid when you’re surfing the net reading pages, but it occasionally leads us astray dealing with words or short phrases. Before you register your new IDN show it to a native speaker. It might save you some embarrassment later on.