DeepL announces breakthrough in AI translation quality

Martin Brinkmann
Feb 6, 2020

DeepL, a company that specializes in machine translation, announced a breakthrough in artificial intelligence translation quality today.

DeepL made waves when it was launched in 2017 as it promised to deliver translations that were more human-like than those of competing services such as Google Translate or Bing Translate. The service launched a document translation service a year later and released DeepL Translator, a desktop application for windows and Mac, in 2019.

The subscription service DeepL Pro is available for individuals, teams and developers that brings in revenue. Plans start at €5.99 for individuals.

One downside was, and still is, the limited number of supported languages. Still, DeepL is used by more than half a billion people according to the company and there does not seem to be an end to the rise of the service in sight.

Translation quality has improved recently according to a new blog post on the DeepL website thanks to new neural networks that are "able to represent the meaning of the translated sentences in the target language much more precisely and, at the same time, are often able to find more professional formulations."

DeepL decided to conduct a blind test using 119 "lengthy passages from a variety of subjects". These were translated by DeepL, Google, Amazon and Microsoft, and presented to "professional translators". The professionals were asked to pick the best translation of the four without information about the service that provided the translations.

deepl translations blind test

According to DeepL, its service was picked four times more often than those of any other system. DeepL managed to get the most votes in categories (English to German, German to English, English to French, French to English, English to Spanish, and Spanish to English translations).

Google Translate made second place except for Spanish to English which Microsoft managed to snag away from Google.

Closing Words

It is a good idea to compare translation services to find out which works best for you. DeepL works best for my needs but the limited number of supported languages sometimes means that other translation services need to be used.

Mozilla plans to launch a native translation service in Firefox as well.

Now You: do you use translation services?

DeepL announces breakthrough in AI translation quality
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DeepL announces breakthrough in AI translation quality
DeepL, a company that specializes in machine translation, announced a breakthrough in artificial intelligence translation quality today.
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  1. David said on March 4, 2020 at 12:31 pm

    I often use the Alexa skill “My Translator”, that uses the DeepL-API ( It work pretty good.

  2. Ivan said on March 2, 2020 at 5:19 pm

    Does anyone have a link to an explanation of the model architecture that DeepL are using for their translator?

  3. Jeff said on February 7, 2020 at 8:48 pm

    What about images? For those who prefer using PCs, what’s the best option to OCR and translate text in images from a PC without using a phone camera?

    1. 99 said on February 8, 2020 at 10:50 am

      Try the free translator QTranslate

      One of the main features is image text recognition (OCR API provided by OCR.SPACE)
      You need to register for your free OCR API key, check the FAQ How to get free OCR API key?

  4. Sebas said on February 7, 2020 at 7:29 pm

    DeepL makes annoying mistakes: when I type jij (Dutch for you) they translate that in Ihr, (U in Dutch) while it must be Dein. They cling on the formal German version, not the version you use for friends.

    Although it is easier to correct this yourself in DeepL, compared to Google translate, which I off course use never for more personal translations.

    Well English speakers won’t probably understand this, but it shows a lack of flexiblity.

    1. Anonymous said on February 14, 2020 at 1:08 am

      I hope you guys realize there is no such thing as AI and servicrs such as DeepL are using existing translations in an attempt to approximate a new translation. Some of those existing translators are copyrighted and those services are allegedly infringing on those copyrights.
      AI is one big hoax. Behind the technobabble there is a big group of people and shady data practices that enable the illusion.

      Oh, and if confidentiality is of any concern, do not upload your information to these data siphoning services.

      1. Altorrin said on September 22, 2020 at 8:59 pm

        Dude, if you don’t understand neural networks, that’s your issue. That doesn’t mean it’s not AI.

    2. Peterc said on February 9, 2020 at 4:45 am

      @Sebas: Maybe DeepL was just raised to be exceedingly polite. ;-)

      1. Peterc said on February 10, 2020 at 12:19 am

        @Sebas: More seriously, we had a similar distinction between informal/intimate and formal/deferential second-person pronouns for several centuries in English. Glossing over the details, before the Norman Conquest (1066) “thou” was singular and “ye” was plural. Over the course of a century or so *after* the Normal Conquest, “thou” contracted into informal/intimate singular, “ye” became “you,” and “you” expanded to become plural *and* formal singular — like “tu” and “vous” in French. By the 1700s, the formal/plural “you” had pretty much supplanted all other forms for all uses (in standard English, at least). Today, “thou” and its derivatives survive only in Shakespeare and the King James Bible. Thankfully, I’m old enough to have lived through all of this, so I understood what you were talking about.

  5. JJ said on February 7, 2020 at 9:52 am

    DeepL is going to be bought by Google soon, I guarantee

  6. optocussy said on February 6, 2020 at 9:20 pm

    a short comment, deepl pro is not at 5.99 but 71.88 € this is not a montly subscription but an annual subscription; though you can get a monthly bill; you have missed this

  7. ULBoom said on February 6, 2020 at 8:19 pm

    One of the first of these I saw, good place to start, Malinda’s talented:

    A favorite, awesome guitar:

    We speak English and OK Spanish; last I looked, Google Translate was about like the vids. Maybe in the last year these services have improved, a test funded by one of them is inherently biased but not necessarily rigged.


    1. Peterc said on February 6, 2020 at 9:56 pm

      @ULBoom: Thanks for these! I got a good chuckle out of them. They were very well done, and for “less major” languages especially, not too far off the mark. Nice musicianship and showmanship, too!

  8. Var said on February 6, 2020 at 6:39 pm

    Why doesn’t DeepL have a seamless extension to translate on-page you are on. Even the Bookmarklet shared above one has to go to DeepL page to do the full page translate.

  9. empirefall said on February 6, 2020 at 5:58 pm

    Google Translate also uses neural networks as the backbone in translations but for most of the time, that implementation simply is not as good as that generated by DeepL

  10. empirefall said on February 6, 2020 at 5:50 pm

    I hope Japanese and Chinese are made available soon

  11. Apparition said on February 6, 2020 at 4:53 pm

    Does DeepL support Klingon? Yes, I am being serious.

  12. Tom Hawack said on February 6, 2020 at 3:18 pm

    I use DeepL Translation and refer to Google Translation if any of these conditions are encountered :

    – Source language is not handled by DeepL;
    – I need a full page’ translation.

    I translate mainly to French and French to English. Unfortunately as far as I know there is no dedicated Firefox extension, so I use a bookmarklet and a dedicated search engine. For those whom may be interested :

    BOOKMARKLET – Translate text to EN with DeepL (without the quotation marks) :

    “javascript:(function translate(){function se(d) {return d.selection ? d.selection.createRange().text : d.getSelection() }s = se(document);for (i=0; i<frames.length && !s; i++)s = se(frames[i].document);if (!s || s=='') s = prompt('Enter text to translate with DeepL','');open(''%20+%20(s%20?%20encodeURIComponent(s)%20:%20'')).focus();})();"

    SEARCH ENGINE – Translate text to EN with DeepL (without the quotation marks)


    NOTE : translator#../en/ means determine source language and translate to English. Replace 'en' by your language accordingly.

    Not only are DeepL translations better than those of Google, IMO and in most cases I've encountered, but they also are of the lot of those applications which allow the user to breathe elsewhere than in Google lands systematically.

    1. Paul(us) said on February 6, 2020 at 5:35 pm

      Thanks, Tom Hawack,
      Nice tip.

      For translating main native tongue to a foreign language I use Deepl and I am ferry pleased about it.

      And regarding that, you cant translate a full page did you already know about the Firefox add-on

      I am a ferry pleased user of it.

      1. Sebas said on February 7, 2020 at 7:31 pm

        I always wanted to have a ferry myself😁

      2. Tom Hawack said on February 7, 2020 at 11:04 am

        @Paul(us), the Firefox translation extension you mention is certainly valuable. It brings far much than what a simple page translation only bookmarklet does. I tend to prefer the latter when they are enough for my needs. For translating a page via Google Translation (given DeepL doesn’t provide this service) I use a bookmarklet such as (without the quotemarks) :


        tl=en for English as destination of course.

        Yes, I’m a bookmarklet lover :=) But of course bookmarklets, because they are small javascripts, won’t run on sites for which the user has disabled javascript …

        Following Anonymous’ allusion above, if your “ferry” is translated by readers here of course to “very” the word itself has the dictionary’s meaning we all know (“”), not to mention Brian Ferry, a great singer who had been in competition at one time with Mick Jagger for the conquest of a beautiful heart :=)

        But I’m sure you know all that and that your “ferry” is somewhere between a smile and a label.
        Anyway, thank you ferry ferry much for all your ferry interesting comments :=)

      3. Rick A. said on February 11, 2020 at 10:04 pm

        @Tom Hawack – “Yes, I’m a bookmarklet lover :=) But of course bookmarklets, because they are small javascripts, won’t run on sites for which the user has disabled javascript …” – What i do is leave Javascript enabled in about:config and Disable Javascript everywhere with uBlock Origin, the Javascript Bookmarklets will still work, then when i need Javascript for a website, i temporarily allow it with uBlock Origin and if i visit the website a lot i make it permanent.

        Also, your DeepL Bookmarklet you posted above works, thanks for that, but the Google Translate bookmarklet you posted, i cannot get it to work. Maybe you posted it wrong or maybe it’s something else wrong on my end.

      4. Anonymous said on February 6, 2020 at 9:06 pm

        @Paul(us), I couldn’t get a translation for “ferry” :-)

      5. Nico said on February 7, 2020 at 12:27 pm

        He must be meaning “very”.
        I guess here he hasn’t not used any translator at all. :)

  13. Clairvaux said on February 6, 2020 at 1:27 pm

    DeepL is not bad. Not bad at all. It’s as good as Google, and sometimes better. Also, it’s more lenient for long texts.

    I have it as a Web panel in Vivaldi, together with Google Translate.

    What’s that Amazon translator ?

  14. Anonymous said on February 6, 2020 at 1:20 pm

    Since the begining there’s a world between DeepL and others ….

    1. Gwilym said on February 6, 2020 at 10:15 pm

      lol I wonder which of them this fellow used ;)

  15. foxy said on February 6, 2020 at 12:42 pm

    I translate to and from Spanish from time to time mainly using Google. Sometimes they does a pretty good job other times it’s total gibberish. When translating from English to Spanish I soon learned to then translate the output and see if they had done a decent job or not. I’d often have to rephrase so it would make sense or not totally change the meaning. However that’s the same with all the others I’ve tried.

    So next time I will give this a go and see how it does. But I’ve seen press releases like this before from various companies and you try their service and and it ends up being no better, often worse. The passages can be chosen that happens to work better with theirs, I’ve never seen them say that they’ve used randomly picked passages.

    1. empirefall said on February 6, 2020 at 5:48 pm

      DeepL is not perfect, it makes mistakes, especially when there is no context, but in my opinion, it performs better that Google’s offering more often

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