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If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys.
Part 1 – Machine translation used as a replacement for human translators.

Home / Blog / If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys.
Part 1 – Machine translation used as a replacement for human translators.


Would you trust a machine to do the translation for you? Maybe not yet.

When you send your inquiry to different translation companies and you received several of quotations, did you noticed that there will always be this one company that can provide you with a quotation that is half or less than half of what most reputable companies can offer?

How do they do it?

You must have heard of Google Translate.

You must have also tried using it as a first option.

You must have even tried to edit and make sense of the translation from Google Translate before giving up.

Yes? Admit it. We have all gone down that path before.

Why not? Google Translate is free. There is no harm in using it. But such tools will not be able to produce translation that is good enough for publication. It is a good tool to help you know if what you looking for is in the foreign language documents but to circulate it as an official document or for public consumption? Would you risk it?

However, a tool like Google Translate may be useless in your hands but in the hands of some translation companies, it can be a useful tool.

We are quite sure that most reputable translation companies in the industry will not resort to using such method as most of our processes are in adherence to a certain industry standard be it EN 15038 or ASTM 2575-06 or the latest, ISO17100.

All these standards require the translation process or Translation, Editing and Proofreading to be handled by 3 independent parties in order to ensure the authenticity of the translation and also to minimise possible critical errors.

Translation companies of a certain size would have the resources to ensure that these standards are adhered to. All these processes are done by professional linguists and all of them need to be paid and thus the pricing.

There are companies that will bypass the TEP process either because they want to reduce their costs or they just simply do not have the resources to handle the entire process. Some may even think that it is not necessary. (sic)

In any case, what they do is that they will run the source text through translation machines such as Google Translate or it’s likes to produce the first draft of translation and edit the translation to the best of their ability. Sometimes, it works. Most of the time, it doesn’t.

For very simple and short text of very generic topic, the mistakes may not be noticeable. But with more extensive documents and very specialised topics, these linguistic gaps become very obvious.

You will notice the following:

– The translated text sounds very rigid and inflexible.
– Some paragraphs may sound very out of place or entirely wrong.
– Some of the terms used are not appropriate or entirely wrong.
– There may be missing information in the translated text.
– There may be additional information in the translated text not found in the source material.
– Some of the translation are totally out of context and doesn’t gel with the rest of the document.

And the list goes on…..

If you can read and understand the translation, you will be very worried and would probably ask for a review and rectification. But if you don’t, you will be at the mercy of these unscrupulous vendors.

Would you risk a law suit should the translated instructions, in this case, mis-instructions, caused harm to consumers? Would you risk being a laughing stock to your competitors and the industry? Would you risk the reputation of your brand or company? If you are the one buying the translation, would your initial credit of having saved some costs for your company end in a termination of your employment or worst, compensation?

Your translation is important to you. It represents your company’s voice and brand in a foreign land you are trying to service or break into. If your consumers do not feel that connection or worse, feel that you are insincere in your engagement with them, you will have no chance against local competitors or other foreign competitors who pay attention to what they say in another language.

Think twice about that low price.

Ask them question about their processes and the standards they adhere to.

Visit their office.

These are some of the things you can do to avoid some pitfalls when purchasing translation.

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