Image of a translation dictionary, focusing on the term 'translation'

Lost in (Google) translation

Google Translate is a useful tool in many situations. But one thing it certainly isn’t is a suitable replacement for a translator or a copywriter (or someone who happens to do both).

Okay, it might convert words from one language into those of another. The same hard facts may be accurately communicated (or, also likely, may not). But it’s a fair bet that the resulting text will be bland and speak to no-one in particular.

Even if the source text is written in your tone of voice, Google Translate won’t pick up on the nuances that make your copy sound like you (or your business). And it certainly won’t be able to create a text with which your target audience can identify.

In other words, it won’t be localised. This is the process of making web content personal, relevant and appropriate to the people you want to connect with. It helps to convince readers that you know them and what they need. It builds trust.

I’ve lost count of the number of websites I’ve seen with English-language content that is eye-wateringly awful to read and clearly written by Google. Content is still the area that’s thought about last and that suffers if the budget is stretched.

As Sticky Content says in its post How to localise your content without losing your voice, the key thing to have in place before you start out is a decent global style guide that also defines how your tone of voice adapts to different regions and cultures.

If you’d like help transforming your Spanish content into targeted English web copy, get in touch. For big translation jobs, use a ‘real’ translator or an agency; Sticky Content also has tips on how to properly brief a content translation project.

What has been your experience of localising content, or using it?

Leave a comment

Thanks for leaving a comment. Please keep in mind that I check each and every one.

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>