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The example I'm citing is one I came across a few months ago (using German to English) and have posted about before. It would be really embarrasing if it still would have been incorrect. Same will go for the examples that the other websites offer.
Computers can't understand context, or even sarcasm. Your translations may be hijacked by a group of people mass-proposing new translations.
..and sounds like a good combination. Did you drown your fries in mayo?
Bastard Programmer from Hell
If you can't read my code, try converting it here[^]
"If you just follow the bacon Eddy, wherever it leads you, then you won't have to think about politics." -- Some Bell.
It seems that a lot of documentation on both the Microsoft as well as the Google website are done using "automatic translations" (from English to local gibberish).
Not necessarily, or rather: What makes you think so?
Especially computer related documentation, and most of all: in free software, with help texts, labels, menus etc. translated by volunteers, the translators have their brains running in "English mode", selecting a translation that is as close to the original phrasing as possible, and sometimes even closer... Several new words have come into Norwegian because translators found it easier to make an English word "look Norwegian" than to find the well established Norwegian term.
Example: "outdated" was in my schooldays translated to "foreldet" (literally: too old), today the common translation is "utdatert". It feels "wrong" to bring in the date to indicate that something that never had a date has turned too old! The old, but outdated (!), Norwegian term was a lot better! (If you explicitly want to indicate that some time/date limit has expired, you can of course do that, too.)
Another example: "Error message" translated to "feil melding" (a very common translation by volunteers) means "wrong message". The proper translation is "feilmelding", in one word. I have argued fiercly with some of those guys who insist on translating it as two independent words!
But far more often, the "translated" words have no root in Norwegian, they just "look Norwegian". The only way to make sense out of them is to recognize their English origin, which is usually very simple, and mentally read the "Norwegian" word as if it was translated properly to Norwegian. But if you can do that, why do you need a translation at all?
A few years ago, we used automatically translated web pages as party entertainment: Everyone was given a paragraph from the "Norwegian" translation, and the first one to guess the original meaning earned points. The one who had earned the most points in the end, won a prize.
For some paragraphs, noone ever managed to back-translate it, or make any sense of it.
Many years ago, there was a web site where you could supply an English phrase and a list of languages. The website would call Google translate to translate the phrase to the first language, and then back again to English. The result was translated to the second language, and back, and so on to the end of the list. Some times the end result was laughable, sometimes shocking (with the meaning completely reversed), sometimes it made no sense at all.
(If this web site, or a similar service, is still in operation, I'd very much like to know the URL - I lost it years ago.)
On the more serious side: All textbooks for Technical Writing courses state as standard procedure that when you have a text translated to a language that you do not fully master yourself, then you should always have another translator translate it back to the original language. The wording may be different, and doesn't even have to be "correct" in grammar or style, but at the abstract level, the contents should be the same. (But remember that mis-translations may also occur in the second step.) In the pre-google age, printed manuals in the user's own language were common. I have worked with a couple companies that followed this practice: The proof prints were also sent to a publicly authorized translator for back translation, before the big printing press started rolling.
but at the abstract level, the contents should be the same
A very long time ago, in real life, whilst in Chemistry Graduate School, I kept failing my German proficiency exam. This was odd, as I was at a conference in Europe and on the way back home, passing through Oktober Fest, I discovered my return-trip partner had passed the exam. Odd, because I spoke German, even whilst a bit smashed, whilst he was totally clueless.
Later, I found out that my efforts to translate the entire scientific paper in the allotted time were the problem. They counted mistakes more than quantity. I did half as much the next time I took the exam and rechecked it - and passed.
This makes sense - as implied in your post, a lot of wrong information is worse then a little good information. [Except, of course, in the current era as regards to News Reporting]
Most of the times the automated translations are barely readable and, worst of all, ambiguous. If the languages have differing sentence structure then it becomes garbage (Japanese to Italian is hilarious).
Automated translations are easily recongnized and they immediately tarnish the quality of the product.
I read about computer translations when I was a teenager, 40+ years ago. In those days, it was essentially used by military "intelligence", to classify documents as "worthy of having a translator make a proper translation of it" or "probably void of interesting information".
Sometimes, I use Google Translate in a similar manner. E.g. if I consider buying a BD movie, I piock up the subtitles from a subtitle website to get an idea of what the movie is about. Some of those "artsy" or "anthropologic" movies may lack subtitles in a language I master, so I pick one of those avaliable and use Google Translate to give a rough idea.
I do the same when I hear songs that I like, for its musical qualities, when I cannot understand the lyrics: Often, I can search up the lyrics in the original language, but with no translation available. Then, Google Translate can give me enough clues so that I get a rough idea what the song is about.
Also, when some reader makes comments e.g. at YouTube in a language I do not master, I can roughly understand what his comment saying.
In cases like that, literary quality is not essential, and Google Translate will do the job well enough. But I leave it at that.
Also, when Google Translate cannot help me, or I suspect that it gives me the wrong translation, I frequently use Wikipedia: I look up the term in Wikipedia of the source language, and then switch to the destination language (or another language that I master). For certain classes of words this is far more reliable, like flower/plant and animal names, religious terms etc. Obviously, the word-by-word translation is so time consuming that I can do it only for specific terms, not for the entire text. But it gives me a guarantee that I do not choose a crazy translation: You will immediately see that "lead" in "lead guitar" does not translate to "bly" in Norwegian . Even though "steel" in "steel guitar" is the metal, it is not so with "lead guitar".
And I used it to set a complex system from the only documentation available, which was in Russian. Yet I won't ever sell a product with UI (or documentation) translations machine made if I don't want to act and look like a perfect fool and the product to look like crap
Using AI to translate is like first year student in a new language. It may get some words right, but the context is always wrong. Different language treats subject/verbs differently like subject first or verb first have different meaning.
If the app is critical and to be sold for cash, always trust a human than an AI.
To mistake take a human, to really louse things up takes an AI.
Maybe the Zeta resource editor will be of interest to you, it's a free tool to edit your resource files and you can let it use Google Translate or Microsoft Translator (Bing): Edit .NET string resources in parallel[^]
Don't. While I can (better: could - I never actually encountered the situation) decipher what someone meant when I'm presented with the german output to an english sentence (e.g. in an email) I would never trust any application presenting the same gibberish. It would seem unprofessional and I'd most certainly figure that it will take from me what it can get (contact info, credit card details, phone number and everything else) and not use it.
At the state of the translation engines, it may be worth to do the intial translation using some automated tool, but proof reading done by a human saves your (and your app's) professional appearance, which you'll most likely want to have.
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