July 2015

What’s wrong with Google Translate?

Three things you probably shouldn’t say to a translator? Here you go:

  • “Actually, Google Translate is sufficient to get my message across”
  • “Isn’t machine translation going to take all your work in the future?”
  • “You translate? Cool, I’ve got an app for that.”

Everyone in the industry has to endure conversations like these. And I mean everyone. The world prophesises our inevitable future unemployment and it’s nothing new.

The fact is technology is improving; it’s also true for the translation industry. Machine translation (MT) and localisation software will be disruptive for sure. But they are more than likely to aid translators rather than make them redundant.

Time and again, people neglect to check automated translations and the results are posted online for posterity. These MT mistakes range from amusing hotel signs and unappetising menus through to, at their worst – or best if you’re partial to Schadenfreude – awkward tattoos.

Something this bad can’t have come from a human being, surely?

Sure, we’ve all seen examples of translation fails, but what about Google Translate? It can’t be that bad, right?

Well, it’s certainly not the worst machine service out there. In fact, as far as they go, it’s pretty decent. But it never produces any sizeable amount of text you can depend on. And this is a problem. Non-linguists often trust the result and miss errors. Embarrassing errors. But above all, costly errors.

If you want to convey your message abroad, you should hire a professional because, in the end, your brand and bottom-line are at stake. Get in touch, I’ll be happy to hear from you!


Have you come across any funny translation fails? Share them in the comments!

So, what’s this blog all about?

Good question.

Whilst writing a blog often seems like the ‘right’ thing to do, it only ever works if you know why you’re doing it.

Although blogs are ten-a-penny, good blogs certainly aren’t. And as this is my first post for this blog, I want to make sure I define something of value that I can offer my readers.

Not only will I write about my thoughts on the localisation industry, I’ll also discuss what it’s like to be a translator and my own personal experiences on my journey through the murky, yet undeniably exciting world of freelancing.

Perhaps we might even learn something along the way, regardless of whether you’re a fellow colleague, someone who’s considering a freelance career or you simply stumbled upon this blog by accident!

Be sure to let me know if there are any specific topics you’d like me to address. In the meantime, enjoy!