Automated translations have their place but there's nothing like the real thing.

Automated translation has its place in providing the reader with the gist of simple text in particular if the text is being translated into English.  There are many instances where it serves a useful purpose for understanding directions or the text in a short email from a customer. 

However automated translation is limited in its application as it cannot understand the rules of grammar. As a result, its use of statistical probabilities often results in bland or awkwardly constructed sentences. Very often the word order will be incorrect with run-on sentences and therefore not match the tone and feel of the original text. These automated translation programmes use statistical data to translate from one language to another. Because these programmes cannot understand idiomatic phrases, or when to use them, they can be applied inappropriately. Additionally, they cannot determine if a selected translation has adverse or offensive cultural references in other languages

Website being let-down by clumsy automated translation?


More than that, automated translation cannot decide by comparison with other reference documents if the message for the audience is in a formal or a relaxed in tone. Put simply it cannot ponder a phrase or understand language in context, like a human translator.  Phrases translated automatically tend to feel lifeless and to the point, devoid of any flare or purposeful creativity such as that achieved through the use alliteration.


Below is the original text in Italian and then two translations into English. It is easy to see the issues that exist with automated translation. 


The original: L’argomento del Liberty nella nostra regione era stato affrontato precedentemente solo dal professor Mario Pitzurra quando nel 1995 pubblicò per Benucci Editore, Architettura e ornato urbano liberty a Perugia , testo ormai introvabile, che aveva il limite, dichiarato dall’autore, di occuparsi solo della realtà del capoluogo. Infatti è lo stesso Pitzurra che concludendo la presentazione della sua opera si augura che «…altri seguano il mio esempio, possibilmente estendendo la ricerca al resto dell’Umbria.»


Automated: The topic of Liberty in our region had been previously addressed only by Professor Mario Pitzurra when in 1995 he published for Benucci Publisher, architecture and ornate Liberty City in Perugia, the text now unobtainable, who had the limit, the author says, to deal only the reality of the capital. In fact it is the same as Pitzurra concluding the presentation of his work hopes that "… others will follow my example, possibly by extending the research to the rest of Umbria."


The human touch: The subject of Liberty in the Umbrian region had only been previously explored by Professor Mario Pitzurra when in 1995 Benucci Editore published his book Architettura e ornato urbano liberty a Perugia, a text which is now out of print. According to the author, his study was limited only to the capital city of the region. In fact, it was Pitzurra himself who concluded his work with the hope that “…others will follow my example, possibly extending their study to the rest of Umbria.”


In summary an automated translation has its uses but unfortunately fails in several critical areas, which is a shame when a polished website is let down by a clumsy automatic translation devoid of the prose crafted into the original text. 


They have come a long way and are great for when you need to quickly grasp the basic idea of what your customer wants, or in understanding directions in a foreign language or indeed a menu! Their translations will give you the gist, but will never match the quality of one carefully crafted by a professional translator. Only humans have an abilty to consider the prose in context and balance the rules of grammar with an innate understanding of the most suitable tone and style required to convey the sense and nature of the message crafted in the original text.


Translation does not have to be expensive. There are many ways we can help your customer reduce their translation costs and still achieve a high quality foreign language presence. 


If you would like further information on how we are able to cost-effectively help your customers achieve their foreign language goals, please contact us on tel: 01604 696096 or




March 30, 2017 12:00 am

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