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Can I google translate this and you just correct the mistakes?

June 27, 2011 – 6:56 pm

You may have missed this news and I missed it as well, until today: Wen Jiabao was visitng Malaysia in April and of course he got a red carpet and a nice banner welcoming him. But then something went terribly wrong. The text in Malaysian was all fine, but the part in Chinese wasn’t. I didn’t decipher the faulty banner myself, so I’m basing my writing on this article by Want China Times.

The article says, that the people in charge for the banner relied on Google Translate. This makes me wonder. How can anyone possibly rely on Google Translate? Everyone knows Google Translate can only translate the most simple text. But then I think, that the guy who made this decision is probably monolingual. I sometimes translate text from English to German. And every time I deal with people who are monolingual it can become really painful.

I remember one customer who asked my how much the translation of a text costs. So I told him and it was to expensive for him. Guess what he suggested then…. He said that he could use Google Translate and then I only need to proofread it for a cheaper price. I first considered writing some offensive words, but then realized it was not worth my time typing any more text for this person and I just quit my Skype.

When do people realize, Google Translate does not work for anything more complicated than “Hello! How are you?” … Wait a moment…. Google Translate even fails this one.
google translate fails

  1. 4 Responses to “Can I google translate this and you just correct the mistakes?”

  2. I ever hired a professional translator for helping me with some english german translations I didn’t have time for. The text I got afterwards was really terribly bad in terms of style and consisted of various mistranslations so the text didn’t make any sense in the end – it didn’t take a rocket scientist to know that it probably was Google Translated. I double checked my theory and found myself right. Of course I immediately got rid of this person and look for a more reliable solution.

    That monolingual people struggle with understanding translation is ok – but if a translator does so, I really get upset.

    However, now I’ve set up a network of various independant translators in China and can offer cheap translations with decent quality in a short time.

    By Aremonus on Jun 29, 2011

  3. Window cleaners and translators are widely expected to be cheap.

    By justrecently on Jul 2, 2011

  4. Google Translate is not the be-all end-all for working between two languages, but it is not something that should be pigeonholed as a “time waster”. Great strides are still being made in every facet of the world of translation and multi-lingual terminology bases, and people need to always remember that humans are the only “machine” that can ever truly work with languages at the level required. Thanks for your input (though I don’t understand the Google Translate example you used…when I tried it I got 2 alternatives in German, both correct–Wie geht es Ihnen and es dir)

    By Trusted Translations on Jul 6, 2011

  5. The problem in my example appears only, when it’s entered just as I did. Replace my exclamation mark with a comma and all is well. Still, that’s a mistake google translate shouldn’t do. And it’s symptomatic for any translations on google translate. I wouldn’t really trust them. It’s just good enough to know the topic of a text.

    By Hendrik on Jul 6, 2011

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