Human vs Google Translation

A word of caution against Google Translate!

Technology is a beautiful thing and in business it has become a game-changer: countless apps, widgets, programs and systems are now available to business people to make their work easier and more efficient.

Non-translators tend to spontaneously think of Google Translate when relating technology to translation.

Google Translate’s automatic translations may seem useful because they give internet users a general understanding of something written in a foreign language (e.g. when casually scanning the internet for information).

However, Google Translate should never be relied upon to generate meaningful and printable content.  Not even to make what seems like minor changes to a previously translated text.

To illustrate just how badly it can fail us, we’ve used an example of a text readily available from the French language website of the fashion and cosmetics powerhouse Chanel:

french-language-clippingand its English language version translated by a human:

english-language-clipping

We submitted the original French copy of this text to Google Translate and compared the results to the human translation.

google-translate-clipping

It is quite noteworthy to point out that although the text was very short (50 to 75 words), Google Translate produced three completely nonsensical sentences:

  •  “His escalation of tensions” instead of “Facial tension slips away”;
  •  “Her muslin cotton soaked in warm water gently exfoliates and perfect cleaning” for what should have said “Moistened with warm water, its cotton cloth gently exfoliates and removes all traces of makeup”;
  •  The header “Benefits” was translated by “Earnings”.

Of course, the problems do not end there.  We also have:

  •  a sentence missing a verb,
  •  a whole slew of rather awkwardly strung words,
  •  not to mention the fact that the product name (“Essential Comfort Cleanser”) was translated in two different ways (“Supreme Comfort Cleansing” and “Supreme Cleansing Comfort”).

So please, heed our warning: avoid the temptation of turning to Google Translate for any type of translation, no matter how insignificant. If changes are made to a document we have previously translated, we will be happy to go over them and make the necessary adjustments.

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