The dangers of automatic machine translation
Translating does not mean simply replacing words in one language with words in another.
One word can have different meanings (just think of the word lead in English…), and a machine certainly cannot detect which one is meant in the text, not to mention cultural aspects! Worse, some languages (like Italian and French) have different genders for words, so that even a simple word like the can be translated as la, il, lo, l’, le, i, gli in Italian, according to the gender of the following word.
Do you think a machine is able to choose the right word? Are you sure a machine can tell whether lead is a substance you put in petrol, an object you use to take your dog for walks, someone important (a lead actor), or an action you perform?
To give you an answer, look at what an automatic translation can do, and imagine if this was your website, manual or anything else representing you and your brand!
Original sentence, in English:
“There is no lead in petrol anymore. At last”. I was thinking about this when I passed by the petrol station with my dog. It pulled the lead and we almost got run over by a car. You should never be distracted when taking your dog for a walk. It can lead you astray, in many ways.
Translate it into Italian using Babel Fish*:
“Non ci sarà cavo in benzina più. A last“. Stavo pensando a questo quando sono passato dalla stazione di servizio con il mio cane. Ha tirato il cavo e quasi abbiamo superato il funzionamento in macchina. Dovreste non essere distratto mai quando prende il vostro cane per una camminata. Può condurrla fuori strada, in molti sensi.
Translate it back into English, to see what Babel Fish has done to it*:
“Not there will be cable in benzine more. To last”. I was thinking next to this when they are passed from the station of service with my dog. It has pulled the cable and nearly we have exceeded the operation in machine. You would have not to be never distracted when it takes your dog for a walk. Road can outside condurrla, in many senses.
Enjoyed this game? Try it for yourself. Now that you have made the right choice about whom to entrust with your translations, you can laugh about how wrong it could have gone.*The most obvious mistakes are highlighted in bold, although I am sure you can see for yourself that the whole translation is a disaster!