So you need a translation for potential clients from specific countries that vital information that needs to be translated into another language but can’t afford to buy the services of a human translator and need it more quickly? You have what you need in the languages that cater to your customers so what could possibly go wrong?
Just take a lot at what this author did that ended up causing his potential international customers to not be offended but steered them away from purchasing his products because he used an online translator!
So where does this problem usually occur in? Anywhere that needs something to be translated by cannot be bothered to find native speakers (even if they are living in their own country). While I was travelling to Japan in January of last year I noticed many signs that were translated into English using an online translator. How did I know this? I could immediately tell just from reading the sign without even having to think to much about it.
1) It translates word-for-word ignoring major grammatical elements that a native speaker could have easily corrected or would have avoided altogether to begin with. Plurals, cases, parts of speech, idioms etc are often skipped over when you put it into a translator.
2) It’s hilariously unprofessional and it will be extremely difficult for potential customers to take your business seriously when you have clearly butchered their native language in a way that could either offend or provoke so much laughter that your translated material to get placed a place like Engrish.com.
3) Words are left untranslated or mistranslated! Whoops! You now have a serious misunderstanding that could potentially break you and your business because you couldn’t be bothered to hire native or fluent speaker to do all of that for you. It will be intensely insulting to customers that speak that language when the vital information either does not make sense or that there’s a random word from your native language in the text that was left untranslated.
Translators will NOT be able to translate every word you give it.
Do you know every word in your native language? No, you don’t. Especially if the vocabulary does not come up at all in your niche or even in your daily life. You might not even know that said word existed if you never looked into or learned about that particular topic to know what that particular thing was. There is also much internet slang that a word, phrase, idiom, etc that you once knew might mean something entirely different to a certain internet niche. There are going to be a plethora of words (even if they are everyday words that you and I use on a daily basis) that will not be in the translator itself. Either because the person (or people) in charge of that translator have not added it yet or added so much that it is literally hard to know what they added and what they have forgotten.
Yahoo! (Altavista) Babelfish was probably the worst online translator ever made.
So much so that you could literally type in the word “God” for instance and then have it translated into Korean and then when you translated it back it spat out the word for “shoes” instead. Now imagine the misunderstandings when you tell people that you worship shoes! Put that to the test the next time you decide to use an online translator. Translate what you want to say in one language and then translate it back to see what the translator REALLY spat out at you. Sometimes it spits out things that are normal coherent person would NEVER actually say! (Example)
Can enter the entrance! Please warn the protector of being in danger of the suffocation being serious by drinking by mistake when small child can enter the entrance enough to handle it!
Huh? I not only do not understand this critical warning but it could be lethal if the customer does not understand the danger and then ends up in a life-threatening situation. This is why it is essential to ALWAYS have accurate translations that express the point clearly.
Sometimes humans do the job better than any computer ever will.
Is it really worth losing all those customers for poor quality translation of your goods so that you can fool those into thinking that your business has a multilingual presence?
Have you ever been forced to use an online translator because you could not find a native/fluent speaker of the language(s) or afford the services of a native/fluent speaker of the language(s) that you need to be translated? Share your experiences in the comments!