Translation and How Google Translate Can Never Do What a Human Can

A top secret report from a foreign competitor in Japan reaches your desk and you can’t read it, you need a translator, but you’re naïve to the whole thing and think to yourself, “why do I need a Japanese translator, I’ll just use Google Translate”. Little did you know that Google Translate doesn’t do the job as well as a high-quality Japanese translator and the whole translation is flawed. You miss the opportunity and the company you work for goes bankrupt because of your poor choice. After losing your job and being unemployed for a long time, the rest of your life starts to fall apart. The bills start to pile up and you can’t pay them. You stress out because of this and you begin to drink heavily. The drinking leads to big fights with your wife and she leaves with the kids. The bank doesn’t take kindly to your lack of payments on your home mortgage or your car, and you lose both. Now you are a homeless man drinking cheap vodka on the streets, who has lost everything he loves, and it was all because you refused to hire a high-quality Japanese translator.

What was that? Oh yea, maybe your right, could have been karma. Maybe that guy should have been more ethical in the first place and not tried to steal information from the Japanese competitor. Maybe it is just doing what it takes to win, depends on how you look at it I guess. But you are missing the point I was trying to make about using a document translation service rather than thinking Google Translate can do the same quality job as a Japanese translator, or a Russian translator or a Korean translator for that matter. Anyone who as actually tried to use Google Translate for a large project, or even a small project with sensitive material, knows exactly what I am talking about. Sure Google Translate is a very handy tool for small on the spot translation needs like a Facebook post from a foreign friend, a short sentence in a book you are reading where one of the characters is from another country and he says something in his native language and your like “what the heck does that mean” so you look it up on Google Translate to find out. It will work in those instances. It will work if you need to quickly translate on the spot something you want to say to your Russian landlord who struggles with English, and it is just a small communication. You just don’t want to go through the process of hiring a Russian translator just to tell him, “fix my heat, It’s below zero outside man, don’t you have any compassion?”. He’s from Siberia and he thinks you’re being a whiny little spoiled American. Ugh, New York. Google Translate might work in a situation like that, but in hindsight dealing with the Siberian landlord might have been easier with a Russian translator, or even a Russian interpreter provided by a translation agency. Live and learn I guess right?

The Hazards of Improper Translation

Think about how many words you use that have a different meaning other than the literal definition. Now think about how using that word the wrong way can lead to a complete misunderstanding and probably some pretty embarrassing scenarios. When you hire a translation company to translate for you, you’re going to get a translator who understands that. A Japanese translator understands Japanese slang and the changing Japanese language. A Russian interpreter knows what words to use correctly so not to insult the person you are speaking with. Trust me, you do not, I repeat, you do not want to insult your two hundred and fifty pound former KGB Siberian landlord. It is not a good idea, I learned from experience. A bunch of broken bones and a few trips to the hospital later and I am now a firm believer in using a professional interpreting service for sensitive material, or translation companies to provide document translation services for anything sensitive. Especially life threating, I cannot emphasize too much, do not put your life on the line for Google Translate. If you have a rather large and angry former KGB Siberian landlord you need to speak to, please, do yourself a favor and hire a professional Russian interpreter, or Russian translator through a translation agency.

The Hilarity of Improper Translation

Do you need an audiovisual example of what I am talking about? About how Google Translate can totally botch a translation by giving the literal translation? Take a look below at this hilarious video of a skit on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon”, featuring Miley Cyrus. In this video, you will see exactly what I am talking about as Jimmy and Miley go back and forth singing songs that have been translated from English to another language and then back to English.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QKxaxrxVMsg

See what I am talking about? Hey! Get back here! Quit going down the YouTube hole, you start watching Jimmy Fallon videos and before you know it you are watching some old Korean grandma reacting to American TV shows, or my favorite, when animals attack videos, I love those. So as I was saying you can wpearly see that Google translate just didn’t cut it when it came to translating those songs, though it did provide us with a hilarious video and some laughter, so it wasn’t all bad. Situations like that are okay for comedy, but when it is something that can directly affect your life it is unacceptable. This is why it is best when you need to translate Chinese to hire a Chinese translator. When you need to speak to someone in Russian it is best to not try to read it off of Google Translate, but rather hire a Russian interpreter. When you have an important business conference with Japanese colleagues, don’t assume you can just wing it with Google Translate, contact a Japanese interpreter and acquire professional conference interpreting services. If you have a big legal hearing and you need court interpreting services, please don’t’ think you can just use Google Translate, you’ll wind up in contempt of court and thrown in jail. You do not look like you would do very well in prison. What do you mean how do I know, I can’t see you? I see all. I’m kidding, no need to tape your webcam. If you need document translation services to understand a contract, don’t just try to use Google Translate and end up signing over your life to helping fight rebel wars in some third world country. Again, a war zone is not the place for you.

The Confusion of Improper Translation

Can you hear me now? Remember this slogan? The now famous Verizon wireless marketing campaign. Well, what if the person on the other end can hear you, but cannot understand you. Not because you are just speaking gibberish, but because the words you are stringing together make absolutely no sense. Can you understand me now? That would be a good new slogan. When trying to communicate over the phone with a non-English speaker, it becomes even more imperative to use a phone interpreter services. Phone communication gives you less nonverbal cues than face to face communication does. You no longer can read that person’s face or get signals from that person’s body language. This makes wpear verbal communication that much more important, because that is all you are relying on. To try to avoid poor communication when calling a foreign country avoid thinking Google Translate is going to be an adequate solution and acquire and over-the-phone interpreting service. Russian interpreters, Japanese interpreters, Korean interpreters or any other language interpreter will be more than happy to assist you and provide you with professional interpreting services that Google Translate just cannot provide.

The Future of Translation and the Irreplaceable Human Experience

While technology advances in many fields, that technology is hardly ever perfect, especially in the beginning. Though it is not perfect it will be fine-tuned over a period of time until it is as perfect as we can get it. That is something us humans are very good at. We are creative, we dream up ideas and then act on them. We create new technology and move forward. Then we take apart that technology, make improvements, and put it back together. Even though we do this, and technology is progressing faster and faster, one thing that technology will never be able to replicate is the human experience. Being human is what sets us apart from the robots, from the machines, the one thing that no matter how hard we try to replace ourselves, or more likely others, we will never be able to do. Language is a key component in this human experience. It is the backbone of civilization. One could say that linguistics is a technology itself in a way. A technology that allowed us to come together, and understand, each other so that we can build the civilization we have today. Being that machines will never be able to be human, or understand what it is to be human, linguistic technology will never be able to do the job of translation, or interpretation as accurately as a human. Whether it is document translation services, simultaneous interpreting services, conference interpreting services, or over-the-phone interpreting services. Whether you need a Russian interpreter, a Chinese interpreter, or a Korean interpreter. The human experience of linguistics cannot be replicated. A proper translator or interpreter will always be able to understand another human better than a machine.

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on pinterest
Pinterest
Share on reddit
Reddit
Share on print
Print
Philip Rosen

Philip Rosen

Capital Linguists’ certified translation service and interpreters service was founded on Philip’s vision of a super-elite translation and interpreting force. Drawing on other high level interpreters and translators, he leads an exclusive cadre of highly skilled, professional language specialists.

Scroll to Top