- By Angela Abbette
- Published 03/23/2008
You may have seen some of the latest releases of translation software on the market these days. The ones that will translate your website into 8 to 10 different languages seamlessly. These translation programs, to some extent, do work and add some benefit. But how much benefit? For many of us, English is our first language, and at least in America, it is the language for business. The internet is chalk full of websites authored in the English language. But business and communication is global. Recent statistics reveal that for the vast majority of internet users online throughout the world, English is not their first language. Roughly two thirds of the global internet user crowd, do not use English. What does this mean for the English language business or communication internet industries? Well, simply, that they are not “language friendly” to the majority of internet users world wide. The solution … language translation scripts. The translation scripts, come in varying forms. Essentially how they work, is when a user comes to a webpage which has an option to view the page in a different language, the user can select which language to translate the page into. What happens next, is really interesting. Usually, the translation script will send a query of the webpage, to Google or Bablefish, for translation, with the result returned for the user to view. Sometimes a cache is made on the host of the website, for quicker retrieval next time. But the user now “sees” a translated result of the webpage in question.
For the most part this is a good outcome. Most foreign (to English) users that wish to see a basic understanding of an English auth
ored webpage in their native language, can gain satisfactory results from the process that these language translation scripts procure. They can gain the base essence of what the webpage or website is trying to emit. This can be of some benefit for business or marketing sites, where “getting the word out” can be accomplished on a global standard. But what of the more technical or intellectual types of writing? How do these language translators fair? Articles have been a backbone of the internet lately. Blogs are everywhere with everyone stating their opinion on various topics. Article writers, authors, and copywriters are also a major vein of content for websites. Usually an author’s words are important to him or her, and the good ones take much pride in their efforts. Using proper grammar, good prose, well structured thoughts and research, plus good critique all make up the higher standards that good writers try to follow. But language translation scripts can really bastardize an author’s content. The fact that most of these language translation scripts rely on “generic” translation (ie Google), the result that they do return from suberb English writing, is pretty much childish and sometimes plain gibberish in the translated language. In effect, these scripts can take a Pulitzer prize author in English, and make him or her sound like a first grader in French, or Spanish, or Korean, or whatever language these scripts translate.
In this author’s option, language translator scripts are for the benefit of website owners. To be able to easily manipulate English prose, and display it in various languages. The result is good for the site owner. But the same result can also be slightly damaging to an author’s reputation as they can possibly be seen as a “poor” author in another language.