Translation news stories

5 Translation News Stories from Around the Web

Downtime is a rare luxury indeed here at Linguistica International HQ, but when there is a quiet moment, we like nothing more than a quick perusal of the web to catch up on all the latest translation news. Technically, it’s still work, so we can get away with it. These labours also bear fruit in the form of this blog. So grab yourself a tea, sit back and have a read of five translation news stories from around the web…

1. Mistranslations can cause nuclear war

We all know that mistranslations are serious – I mean, even Google penalises websites that use its own automated translation tool. But, did you know that translation errors in news coverage helped to push the US and the Russians to the brink of the unthinkable during the Cold War?

To make things worse, the same thing is happening in the Western media today, with simple mistakes escalating the situation with Iran. As if we didn’t have enough trouble with North Korea! Read more about the nuclear fallout of shoddy translation in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

2. Croatian-to-English translation disasters

After that sobering news, let’s brighten the mood with a little translation chuckle. Translation can bring the world to the brink of Armageddon, but it can also be quite funny. Here are a few examples of the good people of Croatia exercising their English skills with less-than-perfect results.

3. New speakers of forest tongue

Forest tongue might sound like some sort of fungal infection, but we’re referring to the endangered Elfdalian language, a language spoken by approximately 2,000 inhabitants of a remote part of Sweden. The beauty of this language is that it split off from Old Norse in the Middle Ages and has been left to develop in isolation since then.

The good news for this critically-endangered language is that it now boasts 26 brand new speakers following a week-long course that attracted people from around the world. The fact that it was such a short course, however, means the new speakers of this little-known forest tongue are still quite green – ha! Find out more here.

4. Make up your mind, Algeria

Did you know that Algeria is currently unable to decide which language it wants to speak? The Economist reports that the country is struggling to balance the use of French, Arabic, Berber and Darija, the four major languages spoken in the country, and this is hampering its development. What do they plan to do about it? We’ve spoon-fed you enough. You’ll have to read the article for yourself.

5. Chinese readers don’t appreciate the classics

The final story we’ll bore tease you with this week is the news that the extremely poor rates of pay for literary translators in China means that Chinese readers are failing to enjoy classic works of foreign literature. Why? Well, with translators and editors forced to work for next to nothing, the quality of the translations is poor. The result is that great works are being reproduced littered with mistakes, which is giving some of our best literature a bad name. Check out Sixth Tone to find out more.

Get in touch

Ready to put an end to our web browsing? Then get in touch with your translation, localisation and copywriting work. Alternatively, if you have a translation news story you’d like to share, please give us a heads-up on Facebook.

Google Actively Penalises Machine Translation

Google Actively Penalises Machine Translations

If you want to expand overseas by translating your website, online content or other online assets into another language, the natural inclination of many businesses might be to jump straight onto Google Translate – after all, it’s free. You might also think that Google’s natural leaning towards its own services, which actually led to a colossal fine of €2.4bn from the EU, might extend to pages translated by Google Translate. Unfortunately, you’d be wrong.

Google penalises low-quality translations

If ever there was proof that Google Translate was not fit for professional business translations, it has to be the fact that Google itself doesn’t like it. As a search engine, Google strives to understand what browsers are searching for. It is committed to providing the highest quality, most relevant results to our searches and, if Google’s current market share is anything to go by, this is something it does pretty well.

When determining the quality and relevance of a web page, Google’s algorithms will look at a range of factors such as the originality of the page, the value of the information it provides and the accuracy of the copy, as well as a number of more technical SEO factors.

To prevent low-quality pages from featuring in its search engine results, Google discounts machine-translated content which is often awkward and error-laden. In fact, Google now classifies content created using translation tools as ‘automatically generated content,’ which violates its webmaster guidelines. And that includes web pages translated by Google Translate.

Google Translate could seriously damage your rankings

What all this means is that if you value your web traffic and your search engine rankings, you’ll stay well away from Google Translate. To make their content accessible to audiences from all over the world, some webmasters simply choose to install a Google Translate widget on their websites. This allows users to change the language of the text. However, the poor-quality translations and potential damage you can do to your search engine rankings make this an extremely dangerous approach to take.

You may also have trouble if you use Google Translate on blogs or websites that feature ads through Google AdSense. That’s because Google can disable accounts that are hosting adverts on websites that feature auto-generated content.

There’s no substitute for a professional translator

Although Google Translate is considered to be the best automated translation tool, it is by no means a replacement for a professional translator. Even if your budget does not stretch to using a professional translator to localise all your copy, at the very least, you should hire a professional to review the site and correct any mistakes before you go live. After all, your search engine traffic and rankings depend on it.

We can help!

At Linguistica International, our team of professional translators perform word-perfect translations for international brands like Santander, Orange and Manchester United. We also help smaller businesses put their best foot forward in new markets. For more information, please get in touch with our team.