MightyMoo - 3:10 am on Nov 16, 2010 (gmt 0)
I have translated one of my sites into French, German and Spanish and found very reasonable online services that do a great job.
My sales and traffic show that Google loves it and definitely sees it as unique content. I wouldn't consider using an automatic translation. I'm sure you've seen shoddily translated sites and they just foul the Internet
My page names are similar to virtualreality's example and have had no problems so far 18 months since beginning the translations. The structure of the translated sites is exactly the same as the original too but with navigation in the correct language.
One tip is to give the search engines some help by adding the language set at the top of the page, for instance German would be:
<html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml" xml:lang="de" lang="de">, although I'm sure most search engines would be pretty good at detecting it automatically