28Mar/111

So, your manager / your colleagues / your partners want you to use Google Translate to save time and money?

There are probably quite a few translation and localization managers out there, who often have to fend off that “idea” to use machine translation. Colleagues or managers look at the likes of Google Translate and they look at the time and money spent on creating human-made translations – and suddenly machine translation seems like a fantastic option.

Translation guy has a few insights on this in his recent blog post.  As usual, the post is well written, insightful and does not shy away from critique. There are many other examples of machine translation gone wrong, such as the infamous “translate server error“.

In essence, there are four use cases at present where machine translation does add value:

- so-called “gisting”, i.e. if you want to quickly and roughly understand what a text in a certain language says;

- translation of highly controlled and structured source content (e.g. weather reports or virus warnings); cf. “controlled language“.

- pseudo-localization, i.e. testing a piece of software with regards to internationlisation or localisability.

- translation of content that wouldn’t otherwise get translated: this is a grey one, though. It certainly doesn’t apply to highly visible or printed content. You might want to use MT on support cases or forum posts, but they should be clearly labeled as having been translated using MT.

If someone thinks that you should use MT for anything else, simply provide them with a few examples, back-translations etc. This will quickly change their minds. Or refer them to the comment to this post which is a back-translation from this post translated into German and then English again using google translate.

M

64 Responses to “So, your manager / your colleagues / your partners want you to use Google Translate to save time and money?”

  1. Martin says:

    There are probably a number of translation and localization are managers, who often fight off the “idea” to use for machine translation. Colleagues or managers look like Google Translate and watch issued at the time and money for the creation of human-made translations – and suddenly machine translation seems like a fantastic opportunity.

    Translation guy has a few glimpses of this in his recent blog post. As usual, the post is well written, honest and not afraid of criticism. There are many other examples of machine translation gone wrong, as the “Translate Server Error” notorious.

    Essentially there are four applications at a time when the machine translation has an added value:

    - So-called “rough translations”, ie, if you want to understand quickly and roughly, what does a text in one language;

    - Translation of highly controlled and structured source content (such as weather reports or virus warnings): see “Controlled Language”.

    - Pseudo-localization, ie testing a piece of software with a view toward foreign lisa tion or localization.

    - Translation of content translated not get elsewhere: This is a gray, though. It certainly is not too high visible or printed materials. You may want to use MT to support cases or forum posts, but they should clearly than has been translated are marked with MT.

    If someone thinks that you should use MT for anything else, just give them a few examples, back-translations, etc. This will quickly change their mind. Or they point to the comment on this post, which translates a translation back from the office into German and then back to English with Google Translate.

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