Risks of Using Machine Translation for your English to Chinese Translation Project
NANJING, China, June 28, 2012 /PRNewswire-iReach/ — A large PR firm writes an article about the need for accuracy and cultural sensitivity in translation and passes the finished text to their art department for the final rendering. The art department decides that it would look cool to have the English and Chinese versions of the words “Lost in Translation” as the graphic to accompany the article. They do a quick lookup using a popular online machine translator for the English to Chinese translation of the term, drop the translation into the graphic and send out the article. The article gets published and the magazine is distributed around the world. Their readers in China are confused. The Chinese version of the graphic translates as “Lost in Tokyo”. The machine translator, which uses algorithms to choose the most common translations found on the web, selected the Chinese name for the well-known and popular movie starring Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson — “Lost in Translation” — as the appropriate Chinese rendering of the term. The embarrassed PR firm publishes a correction in the following issue, but it is too late.
A newly-opened Chinese restaurant in an upscale Shanghai neighborhood wanted to put up a bilingual sign above its window to attract the many tourists strolling through. The restaurateur didn’t know anyone who spoke English and didn’t want to pay for the Chinese to English translation, so he went online to find a machine translation tool, typed in the Chinese name of the restaurant, printed out the result that was returned, and had the sign maker use the result without having anyone check it. Unbeknownst to the restaurateur, the online tool was not working properly that day and had returned the result “Translate Server Error”, and that is what went up on the sign.
Machine translation is being hailed as the future of translation and localization – a virtually cost free way to enter any market worldwide. New machine translation systems and tools are rolled out constantly and existing products are being constantly improved, yet, they remain a highly risky choice that can do irreparable damage to your China business when applied to English to Chinese translation – two languages so vastly different from each other not only linguistically and grammatically but also socially and culturally.
Machines cannot do what a professional human translator can do:
- understand the context and choose the right word – think of the word “make up” – does it mean make up a class, make up with a friend after a spat or the make up that a woman applies to her face. A machine cannot possibly know with any level of accuracy.
- fully understand the grammatical and sentence structure differences between two languages and restructure the translation accurately.
- recognize when a term is culturally sensitive and know to avoid its use in the target language
- understand and interpret the emotional tone of a sentence in the translation
- detect and convey the underlying or hidden meaning implied in a text
It is difficult enough for the machine translation tool to properly handle all of these subtleties between two related languages such as French and Spanish, however the difficulty and the risk of a damaging translation is multiplied many times over when dealing with languages as different from each other as English and Chinese.
For further information on this important topic for any businessman or business executive contemplating an entry into the Chinese marketplace, learn more by reading “The dangers and risks of using machine translation for your English to Chinese translation project“
Founded in July 2000, Nanjing Shanglong Communications has been providing professional Chinese translation services to some of North America’s and Europe’s most demanding clients, many of whom have a major stake in China. Each project is handled through the company’s rigorous three-step translation – editing – proofreading (T-E-P) process to assure the highest quality of delivered product.
Media Contact: Liu Yuanyuan, Director of Operations, Nanjing Shanglong Communicatons, 86 25 8473 2332, email@example.com
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SOURCE Nanjing Shanglong Communicatons