Localising your website

Our Five Point Guide to Localising your International Website

Digital globalisation is the cheapest way to expand your business internationally. The internet has put an end to the traditional barriers to entry into foreign markets. Now, no expensive infrastructure or tangible international assets are required, paving the way for thousands of small online businesses to pedal their products across the world.

However, just because some of the barriers have been removed, that does not mean success overseas is a given. Creating a successful multilingual website that opens doors in new markets is a serious undertaking. If you take a look at any successful international company, let’s take McDonald’s as an example, you’ll see that every region has its own version of the McDonald’s website.

Why? Well, a good website localisation strategy can make or break your attempts to expand overseas. Everything from the layout and design to the imagery, text and symbols you use must be relevant in the cultural context of each location.

So, to help with your international expansion plans, here’s our five-point guide to localising your global website…

1. Cultural context is key

The cultural context is everything when attempting to successfully localise your website. Every element of design, the text, images, and even the choice of colour must be considered in the cultural context of the target market. A page that works well in one language could have a completely different impact on a new audience. Taking the McDonald’s example again, a picture of a hamburger or cheeseburger on the homepage of their Indian website would not go done too well given that 80 percent of the population do not eat beef!

It’s also important to consider attitudes to business etiquette. In the UK, being informal and showing the human side of a business can work well. However, in countries like Poland and Japan, the business style and language is much more formal, so a direct translation of a more relaxed UK website may lack appeal.

2. Don’t take any translation shortcuts

Think about all the elements of your content that make it appeal to a specific audience, such as cultural references, slang, idioms and turns of phrase. All too often, businesses simply turn to an automated translation tool like Google Translate to localise their website pages – often with disastrous results.

Google Translate cannot take cultural references into account, so while it might be a clever tool that can provide some assistance with very simple translations, when you want copy that resonates with your intended audience you should always use a professional.

3. Make your message appropriate

Brand messages can mean different things to different people, with culture playing an important part in the message you convey. Crafting a brand message to let customers know what they can expect from your business is important, but creating a universal message that conveys the right message in different cultures can be tricky.

To be successful, it’s essential you make culturally appropriate changes to your branding, whilst ensuring that your overarching message and brand values are accurately recreated.

4. Check the layout

In some markets, the very fundamentals of your website will need to be changed to make your content accessible. In the Western World, we read in an F-shaped pattern, from left to right. However, in the expanding Arab market, people read from right to left, so that’s something you’d have to change to stand any chance of success.

5. Localise your keyword research

A localised SEO campaign will play an essential role in establishing your brand in overseas markets. Translating your website is all well and good, but if you merely translate your keywords, rather than checking the words and phrases your new audience are actually using, you could miss out on loads of potential traffic.

Localised link-building should also play an important part in your strategy. Optimising for Google alone might not be enough, so check out the most popular search engines in your target market. Do this well and you will benefit from a boost to your rankings and increased visibility for local searches.

Here at Linguistica International, we can advise you on every aspect of the website translation and localisation process to help you compete in overseas markets.

 

 

 

 

Linguistica Launches South Coast Based Recruitment Site

In a bid to meet its ever growing client base’s needs, UK translation agency Linguistica International has launched an in-house recruitment site. Developed to help jobseekers and employers find, advertise and apply for multilingual roles, South Coast based Linguistica Recruitment is part of the company’s commitment to offering clients superlative linguistics services across the globe.

For over 16 years Linguistica International has been delivering word perfect mother tongue translation services to businesses wanting to arm themselves with a global edge. Now, the company has launched a purpose built solution designed to place qualified, mother tongue linguists on-site in permanent roles.

Globalisation is rapidly sweeping the world and the demand for talented linguists has never been greater. Breaking down language barriers is the key to conquering global economies, and businesses that fail to realise this will be left behind. Corporate recruiters often struggle to cater for the niche multilingual market which is where Linguistica’s new recruitment service comes in. Already, the foreign language careers specialist has placed hundreds of professional linguists in positions across England’s South Coast. There’s more than enough talent out there to fill the positions, and Linguistica Recruitment helps employers pinpoint the crème de la crème of the applicant pool.

Using a tried and tested online process, the recruitment team screens high calibre candidates and selects optimal roles based on individual skills and experience. Every placed candidate undergoes written and oral tests to ensure absolute fluency, as well as an in-depth reference check. This meticulous interview process conducted by professional linguists allows employers to recruit with confidence. For businesses, the result is a curated workforce that speaks the language of their customers.

The company makes the recruitment process easy with its dedicated team of HR experts. Employers in search of high quality candidates simply get in touch to discuss requirements, budgets and other details. The team will then scour the existing database of experienced linguists and actively recruit for each individual role.
Carrie Wilson, director said, “The inability to communicate effectively with customers will categorically impact a business’s bottom line. Linguistica Recruitment has been developed to help businesses arm themselves with a global edge, while simultaneously offering professional linguists a place to actively seek out and apply for roles.”

Professional linguists on the hunt for exciting new career opportunities can use the platform to browse job listings and submit applications. Once received, a member of the HR team will be in touch to discuss suitability. As part of the agency’s commitment to ongoing excellence, candidates also enjoy ongoing support and assistance throughout the search.

Currently Linguistica Recruitment is advertising a diverse range of permanent and contract roles in a variety of foreign language careers. From marketing, project management and IT to customer services, administration and HR, employment opportunities are dynamic. Live positions include Multilingual Customer Service Professionals based in Hampshire, Polish Speaking Customer Service Personal based in Portsmouth and an Italian Business Information Manager based in Surrey.

The agency works with a myriad of top companies located in Hampshire, Surrey, Sussex and Dorset.

To find out more about Linguistica Recruitment, go to: www.linguistica-recruitment.com or email us at info@linguistica-recruitment.com

Language Translation and Interpreting

What are the Differences between Translation and Interpreting?

For most people, the question “what do you do for a living?” is a relatively straightforward one. You’re a mechanic, a sound engineer, a lorry driver, a hairdresser or one of any other number of easily understood occupations. When you’re in our line of work, the question is not such a simple one to answer.

The question is: are we translators, or interpreters? The chances are, whoever’s asking probably won’t know the difference between the two, but to language translators and interpreters, there’s an important distinction.

Whatever carefully considered explanation you use to describe your profession, the most likely response you’ll receive is, “ah, so you’re a translator”, regardless of the position you hold within the linguistic spectrum. But just what is the real difference between a translator and an interpreter?

What does each role entail?

There are undoubtedly similarities between translation and interpreting. Both disciplines make it possible to communicate orally or in writing across language barriers, so language is clearly the common denominator. However, there are also some differences in the way the language is used; for this reason, you’ll very rarely find a linguist who works both as a translator and an interpreter.

The translator…

When translating the written word, a linguist must work with precision to express the ideas and meaning conveyed in the source material, whilst maintaining the style, content and form of the original. Just as in the translation of a piece of classic literature, the translator must scrutinise the text to ensure all its intricacies and implied meanings are maintained. This is an activity that requires reflection, time, and an excellent understanding of both languages.

The interpreter…

The work of an interpreter allows far more creative licence. Overcoming the idiosyncrasies of the spoken word and the constraints of time mean the interpreter must work quickly and demonstrate the ability to improvise and think on their feet. The greatest challenge for the interpreter is to accurately reformulate words and phrases that may not have a direct equivalent while (in the case of simultaneous interpreting) listening and speaking at the same time. The demands of the job mean interpreters have no safety net and little time to correct errors, so it’s important to only work with an interpreter you can trust.

The importance of finding the right team

Despite the obvious differences between the two roles, both translators and interpreters must be extremely talented linguists with the ability to use language skilfully and accurately. While the two professions complement each other beautifully, very few linguists can master them both.

Given the complexity of the two roles, it’s essential that businesses communicating orally or in writing across language barriers work with a team of professional linguists they can trust to reach the highest level of skill and accuracy, and that’s where we can help!

For more information about our translation or telephone interpreting services, please call +44 2392 987 765, email: info@linguistica-international.com or use the live support feature on our website.

 

Technical translations

Essential Preparations for your Technical Translations

We complete an extremely diverse range of work here at Linguistica International. One minute we are busying ourselves with the localisation of a dating website to capture the European market, and the next we’re knee deep in some certified or notarised translations, where our every word must be pitch perfect.

With international regulations becoming increasingly rigorous, the completion of accurate and precise technical translations has become a vital component of our work. When the success of product exportation or global system integration relies on the meticulousness of the written word, our clients trust us to deliver.

However, while the engagement of a quality translation company is certainly a step in the right direction, there is also some essential preparation you can do to put your technical translations on the path to success.

Identify your end-reader

Before approaching a translation company about performing technical translations, it’s crucial you consider the needs of your target audience. For example, the audience for medical translations will differ between professional medical staff and patients, with each having different levels of experience and technical expertise. As such, the level of complexity and the use of technical language should be geared towards the end user.

When targeting patients, the language should be simple and straightforward. However, if your product or service is destined for medical professionals, scientific language, and technical expressions should be used.

Use industry-specific translators

Technical translations or localisations performed by translators without experience in your particular field will lack the expertise and sector-specific knowledge required to produce documents that meet your needs.

At Linguistica International, we only work with linguists who hold excellent language qualifications and have at least five years’ experience in professional translating and interpreting. However, they must also hold subject-specific qualifications and have professional experience in their chosen field. This ensures the level of technical understanding our clients need.

Avoid vague and culturally-biased language

The garbage in, garbage out adage is extremely appropriate to technical translations. You will only receive a technically accurate and precise translation if the original document is on the money. Avoid idioms, adages, cultural references and figurative language as it can lose its meaning on translation.

If these expressions are crucial to the text, try the transcreation process instead. This will take into account these phrases and adapt the document to suit the intended audience, without losing any of its meaning.

Produce style guides and glossaries

An effective way to keep the costs of your technical translation down is to produce style guides and approved glossaries which provide insight into the type of work you expect to see. This can provide long-term benefits such as quality, assurance, and contingency, as well as cost savings.

As an experienced medical, legal and technical translation team, we can advise you on the production of glossaries and style guides, and help you prepare for technical translations without overwhelming you with any unnecessary details.

To see how we can help with your technical translations, please contact Linguistica International today. Give us a call on 02393 987 765, email: info@linguistica-international.com, or get in touch on Facebook or Twitter.

Cultural diversity and the impact on your multilingual message

Cultural Diversity and the Impact on Your Multilingual Message

Anyone who works across international borders will have been exposed to the dramatic changes cultural diversity can bring. Simply crossing the border from England into Wales or Scotland can expose you to distinct societal differences, so it’s hardly surprising just how much of a culture shock we can experience when travelling to the other side of the world.

Culture can be defined as the ideas, customs, and social behaviour of a particular people or society. Acknowledging and understanding this diversity has a huge part to play in communicating between cultures, and effectively marketing your business. In this post, we’ll take a look at some of the major key cultural differences at play, and explain how we can help you navigate them safely.

Are rules important?

Well, it depends who you ask. The majority of English-speaking countries generally like rules and believe they should be followed. This includes the UK, USA, Australia and Canada, as well as parts of Northern Europe such as Germany and Switzerland.

Fly east, to India, China and Korea, and rules are seen as more of a guide. They prefer to assess the situation first to see whether the rules need to be applied. In these countries, Latin America and parts of Southern Europe, it is often the case that a relationship is more important than the rule.

Who likes change?

In the US, the Netherlands and Australia, there is a real emphasis on change and innovation. They like to look towards the future, rather than relying too heavily on the past.

In China, Iran, Poland, and even over here in Old Blighty (although to a more moderate degree), we feel more comfortable if everything stays the same. We believe tradition to be extremely important and prefer to be informed by the past.

Is there enough time?

Time is central to countries that appreciate structure and prefer to complete tasks one at a time. This is a trait typically found in Northern European and North American cultures, as well as Japan.

The ability to be fluid and flexible and not be ruled by time is embedded in the cultures of much of Southern Europe, Latin American and the Arab world.

Is privacy important?

Privacy is extremely important to many Western cultures, including here in the UK, where many of us prefer to have a clear distinction between our work and private lives.

If you travel east, openness becomes more important. Those in Arab and Asian cultures are happy for the lines between their private and working lives to blur.

What about status?

Status carries very little weight in Scandinavian countries, North America and Northern Europe. They prefer to treat people similarly and try not to stress differences in social and professional standing.

Cultures primarily in Asia, Latin America, and the Arab world, and to a lesser extent Southern and Eastern Europe, are more likely to respect and honour the status that comes with age, position and even traits like gender.

Why is this important?

If your business is going global, you will have to compete with local companies who are armed with an intrinsic knowledge of their customers’ cultural values. To compete with native companies effectively, it’s essential every piece of marketing you produce, from your brand name to the language, lifestyle and behavioural patterns you promote are culturally relevant to your target market.

At Linguistica International, we only use mother tongue linguists who are native to the country of your target market. The result is culturally relevant, localised marketing messages which speak volumes for your business.

Get in touch to find out more about our transcreation services. Alternatively, if you have some cultural differences of your own, please leave your two cents’ worth on Facebook or Twitter.

foreign-language-learning

Foreign Language Skills in High Demand from UK Companies

The UK has long been criticised on the European and international stage for its reluctance to embrace foreign languages, and its inability to promote their teaching in our schools. Now this lack of enthusiasm for foreign language learning is threatening to stifle the UK’s economy, with businesses unable to hire employees with the linguistic skills they need.

For some time, English has been the international language of business, but in an increasingly globalised economy with more emerging markets than ever before, there has never been a better time to learn a foreign language.

Given the economic rise of non-English speaking countries like Russia, China, Indonesia and Colombia, effective communication across multiple languages is a greater challenge than ever before. Learning languages is an indispensible tool for relationship building and financial success, but research conducted by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) shows that the UK’s apathetic approach to language learning is creating a skills gap we’re struggling to fill.

An ‘alarming shortage’ of Brits with foreign language skills

Of 300 UK companies survey by the CBI, two-thirds said they were more likely to hire people with foreign language skills than those who only speak English. Despite claims from the UK government that more school children are learning a foreign language, the British Council believes there is still an ‘alarming shortage’ of people with foreign language skills in a number of major languages.

The most sought after languages

Perhaps surprisingly, given the global economic shift in recent years, the three languages that are most sought after by UK firms are based a lot closer to home. In a recent poll, British companies said they believed French, German and Spanish to be the most useful second languages, with 50 percent, 49 percent and 44 percent of the vote respectively. However, the importance of emerging markets was also reinforced, with Mandarin (31 percent) and Arabic (23 percent) also on the rise.

Low foreign language take-up in UK schools

So do young people understand the importance of learning a language? With A-level entries for languages falling over the last few years, and acceptances for language degrees in 2013 dipping to the lowest level in a decade, on the surface of it, the answer would appear to be no. However, on closer inspection, the picture seems to be more nuanced.

Research conducted for the Guardian reveals that of 1,001 young people (aged 18-24) surveyed, almost 20 percent spoke another language at home with their family, whilst 70 percent would be interested in learning another language in the future.

There is also evidence that young people in the UK understand that learning a language can help to open up economic, social and cultural opportunities in the future. However, this is countered by the fact that 39 percent of students are put off by the belief that ‘most people speak English’, and 14 percent by the misconception that ‘most other languages are not useful’.

The importance of language translation agencies

Thankfully, what the UK lacks in foreign language speakers, it more than makes up for with high-quality language translation companies that are on hand to bridge the gap.

At Linguistica International, we get to know our clients’ brands and build close partnerships to help them achieve their international goals. For more information about how we can be your team on the ground, get in touch with our language experts today.

Idioms from around the world

Our Favourite Idioms From Around the World

Idioms are some of the most beautiful phrases in any language. Not only do they reveal a country’s attitude to language, but they also provide a window into the way they view life. No two countries use the same idioms; there may be similar themes, but the expressions they use to convey universal human emotions are always unique to their language.

In the UK, you might think that every cloud has a silver lining, or that variety is the spice of life, but utter these iconic idioms abroad to your foreign friends and they’ll think you’ve gone mad.

So, to celebrate the glorious diversity of idioms around the world, we thought we’d ask our team for the literal translations of some of their favourite idioms, and here’s what they said..

1. Not my circus, not my monkeys (Poland)

This Polish idiom is without doubt the best way of saying “I’m sorry pal, that’s not my problem”, which we’ve ever heard.

2. To feed the donkey sponge cake (Portugal)

Any guesses on this one? Anyone? No, thought not. By feeding the sponge cake to the donkey, you are giving someone far better treatment than they actually need. The closest English equivalent we can think of is “over egging the cake”. That’s a lot of cake to be flying around at 4pm on a Tuesday.

3. To give someone pumpkins (Spain)

This Spanish idiom is used to refer to somebody who has been rejected i.e. they were “given pumpkins.” We actually understand the sentiment with this one, because let’s face it, pumpkins are plenty big enough, but they’re really not that tasty.

4. To ride as a hare (Russia)

This beautiful little phrase adds something of the poetic to the process of riding on public transport without a ticket. In the UK, you’d be fair dodging, which sounds a lot less romantic.

5. To slide in on a shrimp sandwich (Sweden)

In the UK we might say “they were born with a silver spoon in their mouths” to refer to someone with a certain sense of entitlement who has not had to work particularly hard to get to where they are today. In Sweden, they substitute a silver spoon for some shrimp to great effect.

6. When a lobster whistles on top of a mountain (Russian)

More poetic brilliance from the Russians with their version of the English “when pigs might fly” to refer to something that’s never going to happen. In Thailand, they use “one afternoon in your next reincarnation”, while the Dutch equivalent is “when the cows are dancing on the ice”. All equally unlikely we’d say.

7. To look at each other like earthenware dogs (French)

Picture the scene if you will: two clay dogs, stock-still in the back garden, staring each other down. This French phrase means exactly that i.e. to look at each other coldly and with mistrust.

8. The thief has a burning hat (Russia)

This Russian phrase, which means to have an uneasy conscience that gives you away, is a perfect fit for Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment, to describe the mindset of chief protagonist Raskolnikov, who gets away with murder only for his conscience to betray him.

9. Pay the duck (Portugal)

In Portugal, if you’re paying the duck, you’re taking the blame for something you did not do. We’d like to try and dig the sense out of that one for you, but we simply can’t. In English, you might say “take the rap”, which comes from the phrase, ‘a rap on the knuckles’.

10. Did an elephant stomp on your ear? (Poland)

They don’t have any elephants in Poland, not in the wild anyway, but if they did, and one stomped on your ear, you probably wouldn’t have much of an appreciation of music, which is exactly what this phrase means.

Do you have any favourite foreign language idioms of your own? Please share you thoughts in the comments section below or by getting in touch on Facebook and Twitter. And please keep it clean!

Bananas

Fantastic Words that are Genuinely ‘Lost in Translation’

Lost in Translation has become a bit of cliché in the translation world since Sofia Coppola’s 2003 comedy drama of the same name was released to critical acclaim. But there are some terms that are genuinely lost in translation due to the complete lack of a foreign language alternative.

For this week’s blog, we thought we’d have a bit of fun by canvassing our worldly translators for some of their favourite terms that lack an exact match in other languages.

There may well be some thoughts, feelings, actions or ideas you’ve always thought were worthy of their own word. For example, what about that conflicting sense of joy and sadness that comes when you’re eating a delicious meal – yes, it’s tasty and you want it all in your face, but it’s also tinged with sadness because the more you eat, the less you’ll have left. Okay, just me then!

SchadenfraudeThe sense of satisfaction that comes from the misfortunes of others

There’s nothing original about You’ve Been Framed, we’re probably on the 2,800 series of it by now, but yet, when the obligatory ‘old lady falls into water after failing to balance on boat’ video shows, we still can’t help a little titter. That ladies and gents, is schadenfraude.   

WarmdushcerAn individual who only likes warm showers

Warmduscher literally translates as ‘warm-showerer’, which probably accounts for most of the human race. However, the implications of this German insult are of a character who is a bit of wimp and afraid to step out of their comfort zone.

NunchiEye-measure

Nunchi refers to a concept in Korean culture that involves listening and gauging an individual’s mood, often without the help of clear signals. In Korea, nunchi is central to the dynamics of interpersonal relationships.

Pisan ZapraThe time it takes to eat a banana

In the UK, we have ‘two shakes of a lamb’s tail’ and ‘in a jiffy’, but in Malaysia, if something is going to take a couple of minutes, then you say pisan zapra, which is the time it takes to eat a banana.

FarpotshketCompletely ruining something due to bungled attempts to fix a minor imperfection

The perfectionists amongst you will recognise this situation all too well. This word describes an attempted tiny fix that ruins something completely. Imagine a painting with a small smudge that you try and remove, only to make a complete hash of your work. That is a farpotshket

TsundokuThe act of leaving a book unread after buying it

At one time or another must of us will have bought books only to put them in a pile with other unread books – certainly at university anyway. This act is referred to by the Japanese as tsundoku. Does it refer to unread books on a Kindle? That we simply do not know.

There are some beautifully evocative words out there that are simply impossible to translate. Of course, the expert translation team at Linguistica International will always find a concise and effective way around this linguistic stumbling block to ensure nothing is lost in translation.

Get in touch

Are there any words you’ve come across without an English equivalent? Please send us your favourite examples on Facebook or Twitter.

 

Translation myths demystified

5 Common Translation Myths Demystified

We like to think we’re a pretty enigmatic bunch here at Linguistica International, shrouded in a cool air of mystery; but in reality, it’s all a bit of farce. You see, there’s no room for mystery when you spend much of your time completing certified translations, sworn translations and notarised translations, where every detail has to be precise and exact. We bring this down to earth approach to every area of our work, and love to demystify the myths our clients have about our services.

Here are five of the most widely held translation myths…

1. Translation is a small, niche market

Au contraire! The business of translation, interpreting and localisation generates £25billion a year (source: Common Sense Advisory). What’s more, this market is growing and widening. Whilst translation in continental Europe was once dominated by the French, Italian, German and Spanish languages, now the EU has to communicate its messages to 24 different countries.

Then there’s the Asian market. Once upon a time it was only Japanese, Chinese and Korean translations we were asked to perform, but now once neglected languages like Vietnamese and Indonesian really matter as more Asian countries become commercial heavyweights.

Even colossal multinationals like Microsoft now deem it profitable to localise their software packages into tiny languages like Maya and Luxembourgish.

2. Machine translation is reducing demand for human translators

Did you read our last blog on Google Translate vs. Human Translators? If you missed it, basically automated translation software has a long way to go.

Far from replacing humans, machine translation is actually increasing demand for human translation. How? Well, automated translation is serving as an awareness campaign, showing decision makers that translating large volumes of information using machine translation is just not feasible, unless of course you’re happy with an end product littered with mistakes.

Technology certainly does have a part to play in the translation industry, but it’s more effective at coordinating our work with clients and allowing us to produce a more efficient, streamlined service.

3. Anyone who’s bilingual can work as a translator

Just as the ability to write in English does not make you a professional writer, the ability to speak two languages does not make you a professional translator. We have some of the strictest selection criteria in the industry. All of our mother-tongue translators hold excellent language qualifications with at least five years’ experience in professional translation and interpreting work.

Successful applicants must also be subject experts with professional experience of their chosen field of specialisation. More people who are perfectly fluent in two languages will fail professional translation and interpreting exams than pass, simply because the standards are so high.

4. Most translators translate books

It is a commonly thought that most translators spend their time translating books, whilst most interpreters work for the EU or the United Nations. It’s simply that these are the two most visible examples of translation services in action. In reality, the largest commercial translation sectors are software, manufacturing, healthcare, legal and financial services.

5. Translators and interpreters speak ‘dozens’ of languages

It is a misconception that translators and interpreters speak 4 or 5 languages. In reality, to keep the quality at a premium, most translators only work in two languages, and many only work in one direction, from one language into another but not in reverse.

As with any professional skill, it is always best to specialise. The average English person uses about 5,000 words on a regular basis, whilst those who are well educated will use up to 10,000. The professions with particularly wide vocabularies, such as lawyers and doctors, can use in excess of 20,000 words.

Translators and interpreters working in these specialised fields have to be able to use advanced technical terms and vocabulary in two languages, which is close to 40,000 words. For this reason, none of our translators work in more than two languages.

Get in touch

Do you have any translation myths you’d like us to debunk? We love to hear from our readers, so send us your translation misconceptions on Facebook or Twitter.

Google Translate vs human translator

Google Translate vs. Human Translator – Which is Best for your Business?

There seems to be no end to the lengths some of America’s richest firms will go in their pursuit of technological advancement. We’re still a long way from inventing a machine with the intelligence to rival that of a human being, but the likes of Google and Amazon are certainly giving it a good go. From Google we have the driverless car, which functions well in early tests but also raises a lot of ethical questions. And from Amazon we have the commercial delivery drone, which frankly just seems a bit ridiculous.

For now, we have the automated translation tool from Google, called Google Translate, which has recently been re-released with a number of enhancements, including the ability to translate both audio and textual content from one language into another. Google translate can be downloaded onto a smartphone, tablet or desktop, so it’s extremely accessible and cost effective, which is all wonderful. But is it actually any good?

The test

As a team of professional translators, we were intrigued to see just how good the new Google Translate really is. We didn’t have  long to wait as a fellow translation took up the challenge, and this is what they did.

To test how Google’s application measured up against a human, they matched the tool against one of their top Spanish translators. The key to the test was to determine whether Google Translate could detect the nuances that exist in language communication, which have such a dramatic impact on the interpretation and final translation.

The test focused on several key elements which are vital to producing an accurate translation, including comprehension, grammar and cultural idioms.

The results

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Google Translate easily beat its flesh and bone equivalent for speed. But this was never a test of speed. Below are the two English translations produced by Google Translate and the human translator:

Google translate

National Council Bee

Beekeeping has become an activity of great relevance. Lets get high demand in foreign market and provides services such as pollination in crops of commercial interest.

Human translator

National Beekeeping Council

Beekeeping has become an enterprise of great importance, as it allows for creating high demand products in foreign markets and provides services such as the pollination of crops that have commercial interest.

The good news is that we’re still in a job! Despite a number of overhauls since its initial release in 2001, Google Translate is still making many of the same mistakes. In this example the translation is overly literal, the syntax is fractured and the word choice and grammar usage is poor.

What does this mean for you and your business?

There’s no doubt that Google Translate certainly has its place. As a quick translation tool it can serve a multitude of purposes, such as:

• Translating menus and road signs when travelling abroad
• Helping you get the gist or understanding of a topic
• Conversations with overseas relatives and friends
• Skimming non-English websites

However, there are also plenty of occasions when only a professional translator will do:

• Business documents
• Financial medical or legal materials
• Advertising and any public facing-content
• Whenever you need a 100 percent accurate translation

At Linguistica International, our mother tongue translators understand the cultural idioms and nuances that are indicative of how a particular word is used. We understand that a literal translation rarely provides the most accurate translation, and are firm believers that there’s still no substitution for human intelligence – at least for now.

Get in touch

What do you think? Could you ever be usurped by a robot? Perhaps you’re a spam bot with something interesting to say? Either way, we always love to hear from our readers, so please share your thoughts on Facebook and Twitter.