top of page

The Dangers of Google Translate

You may want your website to pitch to an international audience and so it would seem natural to have your website in different languages. But let's explore the unforeseen dangers of automated translations first.

A tempting solution is to use the instant translation tools available on the web but don’t be beguiled by the beautiful simplicity of automatic translation systems. Having your website instantly translated by a machine into 30 different languages may sound too good to be true because it is. No machine, no matter how sophisticated, could translate with total accuracy the subtlety of your message. Let’s take a simple example… We wrote in English this sentence “I would like to keep chickens” and then we used Google Translate to convert it into various languages, returning to English each time.

Original English Text:

"I would like to keep chickens"

Translated to French:

Je voudrais garder des poulets

Translated back to English:

I would like to keep chickens

Translated to German:

Ich möchte Hühner halten

Translated back to English:

I would like to hold chickens

Translated to Italian:

Vorrei tenere i polli

Translated back to English:

I would want to hold the chickens

Translated to Portuguese:

Eu quereria prender as galinhas

Translated back to English:

I would want to arrest the hens

So we start with “I would like to keep chickens” and end up with “I would want to arrest the hens”. As you can see our original meaning has become something so completely removed from the original as to make no sense at all. The problem is none of us can speak Portuguese and would have no idea what the resulting translated web page said. Can you imagine how mangled your business message could get and what that would do to your visitor’s perception of your company?

My advice is that if it’s important enough for you to need your website in a different language then get a professional translation company to make sure that your message doesn’t get lost in translation!



bottom of page