It’s not uncommon to hear someone ask about using Google Translate (or another free machine translation tool) for their translation needs. Those in the language industry probably hear this question fairly often, especially since there is a Google Translate button on many websites, both personal and professional, prompting users to translate a website into the language of their choice with just the click of a button.
Although those in the language industry will have immediate reservations about using free, automated machine translation professionally, it is not difficult to understand why many would feel this is a good option. After all, Google provides some amazing services, many of which are free. If you have grown to trust Google for these other services, it might stand to reason that you feel comfortable trusting Google for a free translation, as well. Trust us, we completely understand! However, your organization’s brand and your website’s accuracy may be at stake if you are relying on this method to translate content for your visitors.
The ability to correctly maintain both the meaning and the intended impression of your website’s subject is something, at least at this point in time, that can only be accomplished with professional human translators. These translators are able to dissect the content of the page, understand the intention of its message, and then convey that same message and intention in another language.
Automated machine translation such as Google Translate is unable to identify all of the nuances of a language, and often makes errors involving both the grammar and vocabulary of the target language. If you have ever used the Google Translate button to translate a non-English website into English, it was likely very obvious that the translation was automated and not done professionally by a native speaker. This type of translation does not capture the true original message, even if we can make out what the proper words should have been, some of the time.
If your organization values its branding and professionalism, it is important to have your website translated professionally. A professional translation agency will ensure that a native speaker of the target language who specializes in the subject matter translates your content. The translation will also be reviewed by a proofreader or editor to ensure the quality of the final product. This helps to maintain the professionalism your company conveys through its branding, and it can also keep your company out of legal trouble in certain cases, should your information be translated incorrectly. If you are a food vendor, for example, and your website mistranslates allergy warnings, this could have major legal ramifications for you if one of your customers falls ill.
Even if there are no legal implications, native speakers of a target language will know when a website has been translated through an automated system and may look to your competition for a company that will better communicate with them. After all, good communication is a form of good service.
The process of taking your message, breaking down its intended meaning in all places, understanding the nuances of your ideas and messages, and putting it all back together in another language is complex. Although we completely understand the appeal, we urge you not to rely on a seemingly free service to do this. Just as other aspects of your business are handled by their respective professionals, we recommend doing the same for your translations to help prevent potential mistranslations and bumps down the road.