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Beware: Automated Translation Services Could Devalue your Brand

Flags As it continues its mission to gain ground on Internet Explorer and Firefox as the world’s browser of choice, Google Chrome announced last week that its most recent update includes an automated translation app. Boasting that it runs web apps at lightening speed, the new and improved Chrome will automatically translate any page into a new language for you.

When it comes to convenience, automation is generally considered to be a good thing but the area of translation is once space when the rule of thumb does not apply. Think about it – your brand is defined by the way that it describes itself. It uses the written word to entice potential customers, to set itself apart from competitions and elicit an emotional response from the reader to power an action; a telephone call, an online purchase, a newsletter subscription or an email enquiry. With the written word so powerful and context so important, should you really trust your brand’s entire identity to an automated translation service?

1. Nuance Gets Lost In Automated Translation

The nuances of language, both written and spoken, can change the entire context of a message. An understanding of puns, complex sentence structure and context are all needed to get to grips with the nuances which set your syntax apart and make it sizzle off the page.

2. A Machine Does Not Understand Context or Continuity

When it comes to creative fields such as writing, painting, speaking and marketing, very few machines will ever be superior to humans. Translation is one such example. We imagine that you have been at great pains to build your brand and are conscious of always using the same company logo and same style of speech on your printed materials.

Whether it’s an advert, a catalogue, an email or a page of website copy, your personality and the personality of your business is infused within your writing. This resonance creates your brand identity. Think of the biggest brands, Coco-Cola, Starbucks, L’Oreal et. al– all are immediately recognisable by their brand identity. To capture this in a second language and accurately portray that same message to an audience with different cultural reference points requires an understanding of culture and context.

3. Machines can’t make judgement calls like a professional translation service will

An automated translator has no personality of its own and cannot infuse your text with the same spark the original version possessed. An automated tool will translate word for word, which often won’t work in the second language. Only a professional translation service delivered by a human being can make that judgement and decide how a second language translation can be faithful to the original but adapted for the destination dialect.

4. When accuracy is important nothing can be left to chance

Automated translation programmes often can’t handle very complex subjects well and many will struggle with professional jargon such as legal or medical terms. For legal or business translation, a human touch is always advisable if the topic at hand is complex, involves industry terminology or can directly impact the well-being of customers such as in the case of medical manuals.

Posted on March 18, 2014