Google Translate, a viable option?

The Internet has completely changed the way we do business. Email, Social Media, improved web design and online marketing have helped businesses both small and large to help reach a global client base.

A number of Online products have been developed to help SME’s to work on a level playing field with their larger competitors and tools such as Google Analytics and Adwords have increased the likelihood of companies reaching a customer base of almost 2 billion that log on regularly.

Some of these tools can provide you with a higher chance of success in global markets, however others can give you a negative response.

Lets take online translation tools for example. Professional translations provide additional costs, however it is well worth the outlay. Many companies look to Google for their answer to any translation or localisation requirements they have and believe that Google can provide the answer to their needs.

Is this a good option?

No, is the answer, its probably one of the worst options you can consider for your translation requirements. It’s difficult to understand why large organisations overlook this area when they are already spending huge amounts on rolling out campaigns. A lot of businesses believe it helps to save time and money, however all it does is make your company look uneducated and ignorant towards other languages and cultures.

Here’s an extract of a President Obama speech:

“Cutting the deficit by gutting our investments in innovation and education is like lightening an overloaded airplane by removing its engine. It may make you feel like you’re flying high at first, but it won’t take long before you’ll feel the impact.”

This text was translated into Chinese using online translations tools and when translated back into English reads:

“Cutting gutting our investment in innovation and education to eliminate the deficit is like lightning through the overloading of aircraft engines. It may make you feel the first time you fly high, but it does not how long you will feel the impact.”

This is just one example and it can have far greater unconstructive results. Online or computer based translation tools are unable to understand the tone or context of language and this is key to delivering accurate translations. In addition to this translation tools are unable to pick up on cultural norms and there differences and can often lead to different groups being offended.

Professional translations are on occasions overlooked and it is advised not to assume that free tools will provide you with an accurate and valued service.

So next time you consider using Online or Computer based translations, think about the negative impact it could have on your organisation and your target audience.


About Oliver Grange
Recruitment & Lingual Service Provider

One Response to Google Translate, a viable option?

  1. John Williams says:

    The translations we ask for are generally ones of medical opinion (or of medical test results).Patient care is decided on these translations and therefore we cannot afford to make any assumptions about what has/has not been said. Professional translation does two things for us:

    1) It gives confidence that we have got the most accurate translation possible
    2) It gives us legal comeback in case of mistranslation leading to mistreatment.

    When a patient’s well-being is at stake it is simply not worth the risk of getting it wrong – ethically, morally or financially!

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