Should I use Google Translator for Business?

Q: Should i use Google Translate for business?
A: No, or at least not without it being fully checked by a native speaker.

Whether it is for a search engine bot or a real searcher, the best translator is a real one, not a free translator service provided by a search engine such as Google. Google and Bing’s Translator works without the intervention of human translators using this supposed “state-of-the-art” technology.

Search for “Translation Disasters” and there are a huge amount of spurious (and unproven) mishaps involved in using the service. Whether urban myths or not, there seem to be a few instances recently where real issues occurred. The overall recommendation is that Google and Bing Translator is great for doing minor translations, but never rely on any translation tool if your business or reputation relies on it.

Catalan Government literal translation – Names Mistakes

artur masGoogle and Bing translator have the tendency to translate a name to the local language For example: “Summer” becomes “Ete” in French, which is correct for the season, but obviously not a name.

This occurred when the Catalan Government in Spain used Google translator for the English version of their website. To the delight of Spain’s national press, current president Artur Mas – appeared as ‘President More’. Josep Maria Pelegri the Agriculture Minister became ‘Joseph and Mary Pilgrim’ and former president Josep Tarradellas inexplicably became ‘George Washington’.

It was claimed that Google Translator had only been used as a stop-gap before proper investment was put into a translation company’s services.

Local Nuances can’t be translated easily – The Hewbrew comedy gravestone

An unintended comedy moment for the sitcom “Episodes” starring Matt Le Blanc has been going viral in Israel and around Hebrew speakers throughout the world. A gravestone in one of the editions had a Hebrew inscription, which firstly read the wrong way (Hebrew should be read right to left, not left to right) and secondly made no sense. Within that inscription the man commemorated, a certain Yuhudi Penzel, had been “pickled at great expense”. Apparently this is what you get if you use Google Translate to render “dearly missed” into Hebrew.

Ultimately there are direct translations in all languages which would not convey the actual local nuance. Hebrew, with a particularly high number of words with multiple meanings, and complex linguistic relationship between the ancient and modern language, poses particular problems. Words can obviously have multiple meanings, which could lead to hilarious outcomes if you are solely relying on a Translator-bot to do the work for you.

Play the Translator Game

Google and Bing Translator definitely have their uses with the The Translator Game, where the winner is the person who can come up with the most stupid translation.

  1. Copy a few lines of a song lyric / title or speech into the translator.
  2. Translate it to another language, try Chinese first, but give Spanish, Hebrew and Urdu a go too.
  3. Then translate it back to English
  4. See what the results are.

Fight them on the Beaches? No. Just play in the Sand.

On Bing Translator the Winston Churchill speech “we shall fight them on the beaches…” becomes “We shall play in the sand…”. Give it a go, though you do need to put in more than just the first section.

Some other good Song title on Bing Translator:

  • ‘Ladder to the sky’ rather than “Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zeppelin
  • ‘All along Pretty vattshtover’ rather than “All along the Watchtower” by Bob Dylan
  • ‘This walk way’ rather than “Walk this way” by Run DMC

Human translators can be Unreliable Too

The online translator service is probably no good if you have absolutely no knowledge of the language you are translating to. But that can be the same if you use humans too, as Swansea Council officials realised when they put up this sign bi-lingual sign in English and in Welsh.

“I am not in the office at the moment. Send any work to be translated” – an automatic email reply from the Welsh translator.

Welsh road sign error translation

Without checking the sign was produced and put up.