Computer says what?
The Internet has made our lives better at work, home and play. If it has brought so much joy into our society and sorted out so many things for us, then the presence of online translators means our content will be immediately available in every single language without anyone breaking a sweat, doesn’t it?
At least not yet. While online translators let individuals understand basic information, these tools are not ready for grammar, double meanings and regional variations. Human translation will, for the foreseeable future, be better.
For instance, try looking up the Spanish word “esposas”. It can mean “wives” or “handcuffs”, but Google Translate tells you it means “handcuffs”, “manacles” and “bracelets”. Thus, if you used automatic translation for your paper on polygamy, it would be off-topic to mention that businessman Saleh Al-Sayeri has 58 bracelets. On the other hand, “gato” means either “cat” or “jack”, and Google Translate suggests you use your feline friend to lift your car off the ground.
Free online translation websites don’t exclusively misunderstand Spanish. The same – or worse – mistakes can happen when companies in other languages try to use them for marketing and informational purposes. Engrish.com documents the disasters that come from relying solely on automatic translation. Ill-fated copy, with phrases such as “don’t play dog in park” or “sheet iron sauce bums the frog”, might be hilarious to look at; but it’s not funny when such atrocities are printed on your products.
Hiring a professional, experienced, and above all, human translator will spare you from these embarrassing situations. It will make you and your company look not just like you know about your foreign target audience, but like you care about them. And that’s what you do, don’t you? It’s a good investment that will pay itself sooner than later.
Cynthia Rodriguez is a writer, copy-editor and translator. Born in the north of Mexico and currently living in Leicester. She has been featured on the People Per Hour newsletter and the blog of plus-sized smart clothing label Dea London. You can follow her on twitter @cynthiaescribe