Wednesday, August 19, 2015

When machine translation turns UNESCO heritage into "Refrigerator"

It suggested to "Translate this page". So they did :)
As strange as the headline sounds, this particular issue has amused Czech and Slovak internet readers for several days now. As informed by Czech news portal iDnes.cz, the official web site for promoting tourism in South Moravia Region www.jizni-morava.cz relied on machine (read Google) translation to localize the content into seven languages including English, German, Russian, Slovak, Polish, Italian and Spanish (NOTE: The web site was financed by public as well as EU funds with a total cost of one million Czech crowns – approx. 37,000 EUR). What may have seemed like an easy cost-cutting measure turned out as a free promotion of the region. Unfortunately, in a negative and mocking way.

Visit Refrigerator, Pregnant or Vitriol!

South Moravia's "Refrigerator",
originally Lednice-Valtice complex landmarks.
(Source: DollarPhotoClub.com)
Welcome to Refrigerator, the cultural heritage! Yes, the precise localization tool applied on the above-mentioned official web site changed the geographical names of South Moravian villages including the world renowned Lednice-Valtice complex listed by UNESCO (the name of the village "Lednice" in fact means "refrigerator" when translated mechanically, but come on... :) ). Other translation jewels to be found were, for example, the names of villages Březí (verbatim – Pregnant), or Skalice (verbatim – Vitriol). Sadly amusing results of machine translation or better said undesired effort of bureaucrats is less amusing when taking into account the lack of responsibility for published moreover internationally and tourism-oriented content, while there are a lot of user-friendly localization solutions available.


Lesson learned

Text you need to publish should always be translated by professional, human translators. Yes, it is more expensive than free, on-line machine translation, but if you want to increase sales and awareness + keep customers and other readership it is worth it. And there are many smart ways to get it done right and for modest outlays. Read on.

Replace machine-powered app with humans

Install an interface to human pro translators in your CMS!
Stream Translation API by idioma
Without a need to export texts from your content management system, you can actually install a channel to high-quality human translation. This price-attractive service includes instant cost and delivery time estimates, professional human localization, proofreading and pre-publishing. It also features tracking of content changes  thanks to translation memory and glossary creation to further   lower translation expenses. The solution is a translation API – an interface able to handle the traffic and localize web content. It is available as the Stream Translation API from idioma. Just ask your web developer to integrate the API into your content management system, or download and install our pre-programmed plug-ins yourself!


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