Lost in Google Translation

In Asia, it is common to produce marketing content in more than one language as means of reaching out to a wider audience.
 
We also had a fair share of clients who asked for the content we wrote in English to be translated into a local language like Chinese. When this happens, we enlist a professional translator to collaborate with the content to ensure its context and objective is not lost in translation.
 
Although today, there are still cases where people had turned to Google Translate as their sole translation source. This is not a problem if you’re translating for fun, as most of us know this online translation tool can bring much harmless joy every other day.
 
However, if you’re translating for professional purposes – say, a marketing collateral promoting a local festival to the global market – you should seriously rethink this.
 
Case in point, in case you missed it, was the recent Google Translate fail for the organisers of “Feria do grelo” or rapini festival in the Spanish town of As Pontes, Galicia.
 
Unaware of Google Translate’s limitations, the organisers translated the name of their celebrated leafy vegetable, the grelo in the Galician language, into Castilian Spanish. Which translated in error as “clitoris”. Innocent mistake, but a significant one no less.
 
The Guardian has the full story.
 
As a Google spokesperson clarified in the article, “translations are generated by machines”. There’s no human touch to determine exact context of what you’re trying to put across in your sentences.
 
For your marketing content’s sake (or anything important for that matter), do not depend on Google Translate for your translation needs. Hire a professional. Otherwise, you may end up with an embarrassing situation like the Feria do grelo organisers: publicity for the wrong reasons.
 

Getting stoned: Fun with Google Translate.
Getting stoned: Fun with Google Translate.

 
On a related note, you may have heard of the YouTube series, Google Translate Sings, by singer Malinda Kathleen Reese.
 
Reese re-translates popular song lyrics from English to other languages and back again to English with hilarious results. Listen to this familiar Frozen tune, which was re-translated into a harsher title, “Give Up”.
 
Enjoy!
 
 

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