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Permalink 10:04:46 pm, Categories: For translation buyers, Machine translation, 294 words  

Translate, anyone?

Ray T. Clifford, Director of Brigham Young University Center for Language Studies recently made this brilliant statement: "While the naive public often assumes that anyone who speaks two languages is qualified to be a translator, that assumption is no more valid than the conclusion that everyone with a brain is qualified to do brain surgery." (Source: Deseret News).

The underlying principle of this statement is of course not new for a professional translator, but recently I was able to have it strongly proven to me once more. A prospective client wanted me to proofread a newsletter which had been translated into Spanish by a bilingual employee of his company's. Before stating any rate for this, I asked to see the translation first.

The "translation" was of course the quintessence of awfulness. So much so that I wonder if the employee had realized his lack of qualifications for this assignment and simply turned to an online translator, thinking that it would do a better job than he would. Everything was there: Incomprehensible and badly written sentences, untranslated words (for no good reason), non-existent grammar, and so on. The only correct thing was, there were no misspellings, which makes me think it was indeed an automatic translation. So much for entrusting one of your employees with your translations!

This material could by no means be leveraged for correction into an adequate Spanish text. In these cases I do not have any choice but turning down the assignment as a proofreading job, but offering the client the option of translating directly from the English text, discarding the existing "translation". Which shouldn't necessarily equal a waste of time and resources if at least it helps realize that translation should always be performed by a qualified and professional translator...


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