Translation and press: Is machine translation the future?

Translation and press are two fields that perfectly complement each other in a multilingual society like ours. We have the Catalan press as an example, which is printed in Spanish and Catalan. But, is it a good example to follow? Not really.

And not because they translate. Obviously, they have to translate a lot, but because they do it using  machine translation software. As you’ve heard, some newspapers use a text translator provided by a private company —as is the case with La Vanguardia and the Lucy LT KWIK Translator—, or even free text translators, like Google Translate.

Machine translation and the press

And of course, it is what it is. Who doesn’t remember the fantastic name given to Leo Messi in La Vanguardia? In their Catalan edition, the machine translation program didn’t detect that “Leo” was a proper name and instead thought that it must be referring to the second person singular conjugation of the verb “leer” (to read). Well, the next day it wasn’t Leo Messi who had helped his team to victory, but “Llegeixo Messi”.

Another interesting case, this time from the Western edge of the peninsula, is the translation published on the website of Concello de As Pontes, Galicia, about their Feira do grelo (Rapini Festival). Google Translate decided that the correct translation was, of course, “Feria del clítoris” (Clitoris Festival). For the many attendees coming to A Coruña anxiously looking for the feast, the combination of translation and press constituted an unforgivable error.

Many newspapers promote their own machine translation engines

But it doesn’t stop there, many newspapers not only use machine translation, but promote it as well. A large number of media have jumped on the free machine translation program bandwagon. Newspapers like El PaísEl Mundo and ABC now even offer free text translators. Has it already been decided that we must continue down this path following the marriage of translation and press?

In the world of translation and press, machine translation software can be a good starting point when facing the translation of such a large volume of content as produced by a newspaper. Nevertheless, you can never rely on them to create a final product without requiring exhaustive proofreading. To prove the point, you just have to put a news article in Spanish into Google Translate and translate it into English to see the number of errors that these programs commit.

In need of a translation? Trust the experts

At Ontranslation we are of the opinion that, if you are set on delegating translation to a machine, it will also require post-editing work which can only be handled by an experienced professional. Machine translation, free or not, is not infallible, not by a long shot.

In addition, professionals not only know the source and target languages in which they work, but also have the expert cultural sensibility that will allow you to offer a final product that sounds natural and is culturally adapted, something that a machine could never offer.

What do you think about the use of machine translation programs and their application in the written press?

About the author

Oscar Nogueras

Es el CEO de Ontranslation y dedica algunos ratos libres a escribir en este blog para compartir sus conocimientos sobre internacionalización, cross-border ecommerce y Traducción SEO. No es para menos, ya que entre su formación cuenta con una licenciatura en filología inglesa, un máster en tradumática, un posgrado en elearning y un MBA. En definitiva, una declaración de intenciones donde la cultura y los idiomas se sirven mezclados, no agitados.

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