Pitfalls of online translation tools

Close-up of computer keyboard

For translations, time-saving shortcuts such as free online tools tend to only lead to a mediocre output.

They read badly, invariably contain inaccuracies and give a poor impression.

Moreover, internet robots will often classify online translations as spam.

Automated translations don’t always make sense and could be viewed as spam. More importantly, a poor or artificial-sounding translation can harm your site’s perception.

Lastly, just like any other type of written content, translated text also needs to read well and be engaging. Online translation tools almost never tick this essential box.

Example: 10 words to translate, 6 errors

Une tasse de café
On aime le bon café, serré façon expresso à l’italienne.

Translation suggested by the translation tool

We like good coffee, tight espresso way to Italian.

The errors

  1. We like good coffee — some people do indeed like bad coffee, but what’s needed here is nice and not good.
  2. This translation requires reference to a cup of coffee.
  3. The verb to do is needed to add emphasis.
  4. A tight espresso … as opposed to a loose one? In English, no distinction is made between types of espressos.
  5. It’s not way to Italian, but Italian-style.
  6. The whole sentence needs to be reformulated to maintain the meaning of the original.

Correct translation

We do like a nice cup of coffee — espresso-style just like in Italy.