Here at Linguagloss we are often faced with people who say they don’t need our translation services to help them translate their website content or social media posts because they can just use Google Translate for free… yes they can, but is that really the best option?
Machine translation has come a long way over the years but the biggest problem with Google Translate is that it can’t translate a sentence, instead it translates word by word which can result in a sentence that makes no sense. It chooses the statistically most likely translation of each word then tries to assemble it back into a whole sentence.
For example, we entered the following in Google Translate;
“I have concerns that Google Translate may not be best for my business. What do you think?”
We then translated it into Afrikaans and back to English again and got the following;
“I have concerns that Google Translate can not really the best for my business. What do you think?”
Of course this gets the message across but it’s what we would call ‘Pidgin English’ – do you think it looks professional? Would you purchase from a company that made no real effort to ensure their message made sense to their customers?
How about a sales message? Maybe you want to advertise your product on your website with a special offer, or even on a social media platform. Here is an example we entered into Google Translate:
“When you purchase this incredible product from us by the end of July you will save 25% for the first three months, after this time you will pay the full cost on a rolling one-month contract”
We then translated it into French, before going back to English again… and this is what we got:
“When you buy this amazing product to us at the end of July , you will save 25% for the first three months , after this period , you will pay the entire cost of a rolling one-month contract”
Not only is the grammar incorrect (with a space before each comma), but actually your special offer has changed and no longer really makes sense. Again, is this the message that you want to send out when you are targeting a brand new audience with your business?
Google Translate doesn’t fully understand grammar and works on statistical probabilities; it doesn’t know local phrases, quotes or strap lines (as we showed last month with examples of international marketing gone wrong). If you need someone that understands grammar, external influences in different regions, sayings and words in other languages and has a real understanding of other languages/cultures and how to talk to different nationalities then contact the team here at Linguagloss because we will help you spread your message across the globe.