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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.
I only have a signature in order to let @DalekDave follow my posts.
Making sure the horse is well and truly masticated:
Automated translation is fine when you need to read an email or a document written in language not your own. You can't trust it to express your thoughts correctly when authoring a document or an application, especially if your text contains industry-specific vocabulary.
It's very difficult to get a good translation for an application. We have translators experienced with our products, and we try to send our localized apps to our in-country service people for review. Even with all that we get occasional complains about the quality of our translations. Many customers use the English version of the app by preference.
I've noticed some really weird translations between Swedish and German, that simply didn't make sense.
That is, until I translated from German to English, and then to Swedish from English. Then I could see how it happened.
I've tested it several times since, it seems like Google translate is using English as an in between language.
Try to translate Norwegian "postoppkrav" to Swedish - it comes out as "TORSK".
"Postoppkrav" first goes to English - correctly - as "Charge On Delivery", commonly abbreviated COD. Then COD is translated as if it were the fish "cod" to Swedish, but with casing preserved.
Earlier, Google could translate English numerals to French up to forty seven, but forty eight was translated to 48 That is fixed now, though.
No, don't even try UI translation with any online translator. Ask the customer to provide the text. Having worked with websites in languages alien to me, I used to create UI in English so I understand and then translated it to required one. On the first demo people who knew the language were looking amused. I thought they are really happy with the UI. Turned out online translation meant something very different than what the text intended to convey. Luckily it was just first demo and I was waiting for translations from them.
Translate everything using Google Translate, then provide proofreading linguists with both copies: translated and English versions. Whenever the proofreaders get confused by Google's translation, they will be able to look up the original text and figure it out, even if they don't speak English very well themselves.
I would only use it as a means to check translation work from a third party.
The problem with translation is context - my father worked as a translator for 30 years and even back in the early 80's he was involved in machine translation trials which he pointed out were far worse than a human.
37 years later and we still don't have perfect machine translation.
One problem is that languages change over time and even within languages there are disputes over the correct use of the language.
Also within many languages there are different ways of phrasing the same sentence which convey a different level of education - init.
I find myself watching French films thinking "That's not particularly grammatically correct French they are speaking".
“That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence.”