Nowadays, it almost seems that Google Translate, with its accuracy and speed, can very well outrank human translation. However, no major company ever relies on this free and fully automated service, and the reasoning is clear: taking this ‘easy’ route is extremely risky for both young, new startups, and for highly seasoned and well-initiated companies.
Google Translate Does Not Know Your Target Audience
In order to maintain a high level of customer trust and a good brand identity, your company has to communicate with the target audience in the most appropriate type of language. Being a machine translation service, Google Translate is not designed to have a target audience; therefore, many nuances that characterise a language both in its spoken form and in print are lost.
An example might be the difference between du and Sie in German: the former pronoun is used in informal contexts, whereas the latter characterises formal conversations. Google Translate uses the two words interchangeably, which might lead to a text that inconsistently features both of them. This would be detrimental to your company’s brand reputation and would alienate a considerable portion of your target audience from the services you offer.
Google Translate Makes Mistakes in Grammar and Word Usage
It is true that Google Translate learns from the mistakes it makes. However, such mistakes need to be noticed by a human eye first, before they can be fixed. When it comes to creating a brand identity, grammar mistakes can be very harmful to your company’s reputation. By using automated machine translation services, you are giving free rein to these little mistakes.
Moreover, as the algorithms do not base their work off of real-life context, it is very difficult for Google Translate to choose the right translation for words with multiple meanings, such as ‘light’: should it be Licht or leicht? More often than not, this leads to mistakes that would render the end product almost unintelligible.
Google Translate Might Cause Misunderstandings
Different languages have different ways to express time: in German, for example, ‘half past eight’ is halb neun (i.e. ‘half nine’). Google Translate struggles with translations that involve time, often rendering halb neun as ‘half past nine’ and ‘half past eight’ as halb acht (i.e. ‘half eight’, which actually means ‘half past seven’).
These mistakes might lead to misunderstandings and to a whole array of problems that are uncalled for, not only in the immediate present, but also in the longer term. Little scheduling problems and lost-in-translation exchanges, both in the case of budding start-ups and big businesses, can harm your customer trust and your brand identity.
Google Translate Does Not Localise
One of the key aspects of translations carried out by professional native translators is localisation. Texts should not only be translated word for word: they have to be adapted to the mentality and sensibility of the target demographic.
Idioms and puns, for instance, cannot be fed into a machine translation system, or the outcome would be completely devoid of any sense. For example, British English is full of idioms and phrases that would produce unintelligible results if translated with Google Translate: ‘cream crackered’ (i.e. ‘extremely tired’), in German, would yield Sahne geknackt, instead of sehr müde or kaputt.
If you are planning on accessing the international market, you should try and establish a positive relationship between your company and the target audience. The best way to do this is to show that you understand the culture and values of your foreign clients, which is why localisation is such an important part of the translation process.
Google Translate Might Use Translations Suggested by Its Users
Google Translate is a user-friendly interface, which means that a sizeable amount of its translations has actually been submitted by its users. While most of such contributions are constructive towards the project, there are a few erroneous or even purposefully wrong submissions that have managed to slip under the radar.
As you can see on many videos posted on YouTube, certain keywords in certain languages might lead to confusing results (e.g. nonsensical translations and even links to certain websites). When doing international business, it is best to avoid these rare, yet damaging occurrences.
Google Translate Is Not Suitable for Your Confidentiality Standards
Many companies sign NDAs before working on a project, especially when documents of high confidentiality are disclosed to new parties. However, if you uploading your contracts to Google Translate, you are disclosing this to Google and the public who will receive machine generated translations based off your input which will probably breach with your NDAs and data privacy policies.
Although this completely free service might seem the best option for your company, in the long run, all these inevitable mistakes will cost you more than you think! In order to prevent this, you should rely on a professional translator. Use machine translation services only for internal understanding of a publicly available document.
The good news is that here at Access International GmbH, we will provide high quality translation and localisation services with the help of professional translators who comply with the ISO 17100 quality standards. You will be assigned to someone with several years of experience and with a degree in translation from higher education institutions.
Contact us! firstname.lastname@example.org