Google Translate as a reference from the client
Thread poster: Yiftah Hellerman-Carmel

Yiftah Hellerman-Carmel  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:54
Member (2005)
German to Hebrew
+ ...
Jun 2, 2014

I have recently had a project to translate, for which I received from the client a list mandatory translations of voice prompts (short sentences). During my work I detected an indisputable error in one of the provided translations. I notified the client (through the agency), the reply I received amazed me: The client inserted the sentence to Google Translate and it seems that the translation in the list was after all correct, can you please check again?

I find it unbelievable. Discussions over translation issues are OK and even welcome, but using Google Translate as a reference is something I have not yet encountered.


Michael J.H. Davies  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:54
Member (2009)
English to Danish
+ ...
Google Translate as a reference!!!! ????? Jun 2, 2014


How unbelievable! I often use GT (critically!) as an aid to translation for specific phrases - and it has become much much better than it was in early days - but from there to relying on it as a reference ... I'm speechless. It would seem to indicate a vital lack of knowledge on the behalf of the client.


M. Davies


United Kingdom
Local time: 03:54
Serbian to English
+ ...
shifty sands of quality control Jun 2, 2014

not too surprising, just goes to prove the fundamental difference between hiring a plumber / car mechanic / builder / tailor / hairdresser etc and a translator.

Usually, the average client is perfectly in position to evaluate the service rendered - can very well see if the plumbing is still leaking, the car engine still coughing etc. needs no one to tell him if he likes or not the new haircut etc...

Not so with translating - with the exception of a (very small) minority of clients who could do the translation themselves but simply don't have the time, the average client has very little means of checking the quality of delivered work, given that the reason for asking for a translator in the first place is him not knowing a foreign language.

So relying on third party opinion is simply unavoidable. What is avoidable is showing total lack of understanding of the translation process and rely on Google translate as "The Authority".

There are situations where the client IS NOT right and it must be pointed out. Not doing so amounts, in the long run, to shooting yourself in the foot.


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Google Translate as a reference from the client

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