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Four reasons why businesses should not use machine website translation

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Google is ever-expanding its machine translation services. From the basic Google Translate, to Gmail’s automatic message translation (AMT) tool to the Android Translation app and the widely criticised Website Translator.

Google offer human correction function to website translation tool, but is it reliable?

Google have introduced a new feature which aids the Website Translator tool letting website owners customise and improve the translation of content on their sites.

The product manager of Google Translate, Jeff Chin, in Google’s recent blog post described the function:

Once you add the customization Meta tag to a webpage, visitors will see your customized translations whenever they translate the page, even when they use the translation feature in Chrome and Google Toolbar. They’ll also now be able to ‘suggest a better translation’ when they notice a translation that’s not quite right, and later you can accept and use that suggestion on your site.

The page can be translated into one of more than 60 languages offered by Google.

If one of your visitors recognises an error in translation they have the power to change it, however website owners must authorise this change before it goes live and becomes available for everyone to see.

Is your Business’s reputation worth the risk?

The feature has been added so that human’s can edit the machine failures. But if the human editor isn’t a qualified translator or even if they are they may not know what the page is supposed to say. So how can website owners be expected to trust the translation is correct, or know it isn’t a competitor trying to tarnish their reputation?

Four reasons why businesses should not use machine website translation

  1. Machine translation errors are unavoidable and frequent; don’t let bad machine translation taint your companies hard-won reputation by providing mistranslations and errors on your webpage.
  2. What means one thing in English means something completely different in French and in Spanish etc. Context is key and machines do not recognise context. When machine translated KFC’s famous slogan “finger lickin’ good” translates in Chinese to “eat your fingers off”. Human intelligence is needed to re-phrase the text in order for it to make sense or be acceptable in certain markets. Otherwise your brand will not be communicating its message and vision effectively.
  3. You only get one chance to make a good first impression. If your website does not make sense, is full of translation errors and in some cases like with KFC completely sends out the wrong message people aren’t going to:
    • Use your business
    • Recommend you to anyone else, if anything they’ll speak badly of you
    • Rule your business out in the future.
  4. While machine translation is cheap initially, the cost of rebuilding your brands reputation when it goes wrong and the cost of the amount of business you could potentially lose to bad translation is huge.

Paying for professional translation to start with will guarantee your website is translated accurately, making your business available to wider worldwide markets, increasing your businesses reach and potentially making your business more money.

Google admit “You’ll still sometimes run into translations we didn’t quite get right”

Chin said the following:

While we’ve kept improving our machine translation system we may not reach perfection until someone invents full-blown artificial intelligence, In other words, you’ll still sometimes run into translations we didn’t get quite right.

This quite frankly says it all. In business there is no room for mistakes or errors, why would someone trust your business if you cannot portray yourself in a professional, clear, understandable way.

Websites are customer’s go-to aid when researching businesses therefore it’s essential that your website is a direct reflection of your company e.g. portrays your vision and mission clearly so that customers know what you’re all about.

Machine translation in business is a NO GO

Whilst we praise Google for their never-ending promotion of translation and their effort to improve their translation services, when it comes to business there’s only one way to translate, professionally.

Chin has said it himself, unless someone invents full-blown artificial intelligence (which I can’t see happening any time soon) you’ll still be prone to errors.

Put your businesses reputation in professional translator’s hands and see the effects of offering your business to wider, foreign markets.

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