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Poll: Do you think that googling a term/ phrase with quotation marks is a reliable indicator of its usage?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 09:59
SITE STAFF
Jul 1, 2011

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Do you think that googling a term/ phrase with quotation marks is a reliable indicator of its usage?".

This poll was originally submitted by Martina Pokupec. View the poll results »



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Mary Worby  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:59
Member
German to English
+ ...
Yes, but ... Jul 1, 2011

... with caveats, as always! It's a pretty reliable indicator of usage, but not an indicator of correctness! You can Google virtually any spelling mistake and find it reproduced millions of times over around the world. You need to drill down into the results, look into sources and origins before you can confirm any correct terminology.

Google is a powerful tool, but needs to be handled correctly.


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Michael Harris  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 18:59
Member (2006)
German to English
dont know Jul 1, 2011

and to be honest, have never thought about it. Does it really make a difference?

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Marta Cervera Areny
Spain
Local time: 18:59
Catalan to Spanish
+ ...
Usage, not correctness... Jul 1, 2011

Totally agree with Mary! Usage doesn't mean correctness. Not all the sources are reliable...

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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 17:59
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
I couldn't say it better! Jul 1, 2011

Mary Worby wrote:

... with caveats, as always! It's a pretty reliable indicator of usage, but not an indicator of correctness! You can Google virtually any spelling mistake and find it reproduced millions of times over around the world. You need to drill down into the results, look into sources and origins before you can confirm any correct terminology.

Google is a powerful tool, but needs to be handled correctly.


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Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 18:59
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
Or I Jul 1, 2011

Teresa Borges wrote:

Mary Worby wrote:

... with caveats, as always! It's a pretty reliable indicator of usage, but not an indicator of correctness! You can Google virtually any spelling mistake and find it reproduced millions of times over around the world. You need to drill down into the results, look into sources and origins before you can confirm any correct terminology.

Google is a powerful tool, but needs to be handled correctly.


Exactly.


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 18:59
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Only if you check the links you find Jul 1, 2011

I used to like Alta Vista (RIP), because if I searched for something in Danish
(= source language) with the language set for English ( = target language), it would often find a handful of really brilliant hits.

If not, there was a quick and easy advanced search option that often helped.

This was a great way to find ministries, government agencies and lots of other word clusters that often have official English titles or translations.

Google tries desperately to find a million hits, and clouds the issue by asking whether I meant something else... (Give me just a little credit... ) I have not mastered the language settings - it always offers me the language I don't want! By comparison it is maddening - it goes for quantity instead of quality.

No matter what kind of hits you get, you have to check them individually. The term may exist, but that does not prove that it means what you think or hope it means...

If it is used several million times, a short cut is to check the domains of sites where it is used. For instance, I think twice about expressions where there are masses of hits, but most of the domains are Scandinavian.
They may be perfectly correct if the reference is to the Danish Ministry of something or other for instance. If it is an unusual piece of syntax, the chances are that it is not regarded as native in any neck of the English-speaking woods.

There are also the differences between .co.uk, or .au or .gov and so on.

Googling with inverted commas is only the start of the process.


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Nikki Graham  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:59
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
Agree with Mary Jul 1, 2011

I use this all the time to check usage of certain phrases, and have to admit that some I often don't like, I end up using because of the overwhelming evidence that people do actually say it that way. You need to look very carefully at who is saying it though. One good filter I frequently use is "site:uk". And also, Google often tells you there are hundreds of thousands of results for a term, but when you click to the last page of the results, this can often end up being a rather insignificant total. Why this is the case, I don't know. But don't trust the first page of results...

Off topic:

Mary, how do you always manage to get here first?


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Jennifer Baldwin  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:59
Member (2005)
French to English
+ ...
Especially useful for collocations Jul 1, 2011

I agree completely with the above comments. Google is a great resource for this, but I've also been amazed at how often a bad phrasing or translation appears in the search results.

Google is also great for collocations in general. I'll frequently search for multiple phrasings to see which has the most credible hits on Google. It can be a valuable way to learn how the subject is written about by native or monolingual speakers of the target language.


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John Cutler  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 18:59
Spanish to English
+ ...
Indicator yes, reliable no Jul 1, 2011

It may be an indicator of its usage,but reliability is a horse of a different color.

I agree with the other posters: Googling something is just the start of the research process. It's like the Kudoz glossary, there's a lot of wading around to be done. You can't just take the first answer that pops up; neither source is authoritative.

Googling is like a compass: it aims you in the right direction, but you still have to find your own way there.


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Mary Worby  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:59
Member
German to English
+ ...
:-) Jul 1, 2011

Nikki Graham wrote:

Off topic:

Mary, how do you always manage to get here first?


I know what time the new polls come in. It used to be just after the children got on the bus, so I could check it first thing I did when I sat down. Now thanks to daylight-saving it's a little later, so I'm not always on the money!


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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 18:59
Spanish to English
+ ...
Ditto Jul 1, 2011

Mary Worby wrote:

... with caveats, as always! It's a pretty reliable indicator of usage, but not an indicator of correctness! You can Google virtually any spelling mistake and find it reproduced millions of times over around the world. You need to drill down into the results, look into sources and origins before you can confirm any correct terminology.

Google is a powerful tool, but needs to be handled correctly.


Nuff said! Have a good weekend


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Alexandra Speirs  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:59
Italian to English
+ ...
learning from polls! Jul 1, 2011

I never knew about the inverted commas trick!

Just googled the same phrase, with and without inverted commas.
Result with = 1,530
Result without = 2,220,000

Of course, we always have to check what we find, there are all kinds of people writing on the Internet!


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xxxInterlangue
Angola
Local time: 18:59
English to French
+ ...
Yes... (advanced search) Jul 1, 2011

BUT inverted commas make no change for just one term, and they are not quite enough for a sequence.
site:.fr (or any other that suits your personal search), europa.eu or a second sequence about your field, your end client, etc. are a good help to refine your search.
I google a sequence in the source language and see whether I can find a comparable site (or several) in my target language ... then come the reading, comparing and possibly finding what I am looking for.
Or I make an "educated guess" in my target language and start reading.

linguee.com is a useful resource also, though you've got to sort results there too.

[Modifié le 2011-07-01 12:32 GMT]


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FionaT
Netherlands
Local time: 18:59
Dutch to English
+ ...
I agree with Mary Jul 1, 2011

It's a indication, which may or may not point you in the right direction. One of my favourites is to use an asterisk as a wildcard if I can't think of the right word. So for instance searching for "blind as a *" if I were unable to remember what the expression is, would inevitably produce lots of hits for "blind as a bat".

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