Should I use the translation functions offered by search engines? If you have read our previous article on Google Translate and other online translation tools, you’ll know the answer: it depends!
For example, do you, for personal purposes, want to understand what a webpage in another language says? If so, go right ahead! You’ll get a good idea of the website’s content, although some of the sentences will seem a little odd. Be careful, however: sometimes the translated phrase will say the exact opposite of the original! For this type of translation, Google Translate and similar tools are an interesting glimpse into a world that was once out of reach. Imagine reading newspapers in foreign languages, sharing messages with correspondents from all over the globe! Be cautious, all the same: texts translated this way sometimes have connotations that the original does not. Avoid misunderstandings caused by machine translation and remember that if the translation doesn’t make sense, it isn’t necessarily the original text’s fault. A computer isn’t human (yet)!
Another example of using machine translation, this time more dangerous: imagine you work in Human Resources, and you want to understand a message that an employee has sent about their sick leave. Careful! This is private information. Your message will be kept in the translation tool’s memory and could pop up in another translation of a similar text. So much for confidentiality. This is an error you can avoid!
At the same time … you don’t want to pay a professional just so that you can have a better idea of what your message means. Tell your translator and explain that your text isn’t intended for publication. They can translate the key information and give you a summary in your own language, “for internal use only.” The contents of your message will remain private and confidential!
Finally, here is a classic situation: You’re putting your website online, and you want your content to be accessible to clients who speak a different language. We’ve all seen websites where the designer has simply added a string of links: clients who want to read the site in their own language just have to click on the language or flag of their choice … and voila, the site reappears, but in their own language. A closer look, however, shows that the site is filled with bizarre sentences, spelling mistakes and fishy grammar … Your client now gets the idea that they aren’t very important to you! Is that what you’re going for?
Yeah, well … translating my whole site would be to expensive, you think… Why not start with the most important pages? Talk to a member of our team: certified translators are also linguistic advisors who can help you improve communication with your own clients. The parts of your site that are professionally translated will give your clients an overview of what you can provide and will also implicitly send a critical message: your client is so important that you will speak to them in their own language, without taking any easy shortcuts.
* Text translated by Alison Newall