In November 2014 the Irish government was criticized when it published an inaccurate translation of the 1916 Proclamation on its website. The document was riddled with mistakes and contained quite a bit of nonsense.
The bad translation appeared to have been produced by Google Translate. Understandably, this concerned Irish citizens, who were surprised to learn that their government would turn to an automated translation program rather than a professional translation company.
Take a look at the issues this misstep caused and why it’s important to avoid publishing content created by automated translation.
Why Many Irish Citizens Were Upset
People who speak the Irish language deserve to be able to comprehend important content – such as the 1916 Proclamation – just as well as English speakers. Yet this wasn’t the case here, since anyone who did not speak fluent English only had access to an inaccurate automated translation.
Not only did this confuse Irish speakers, but it also left them feeling devalued. After all, their own government appeared unconcerned with obtaining and providing them with a quality translation, a fact many felt would not have been the case had the government been translating Irish to English.
When confronted by the dismayed speakers of the Irish language, the government claimed it never meant to publish the content. Instead, the automated translation provided by Google Translate was only supposed to be a placeholder until a better translation could be produced.
How Proofreading Could Have Helped
Despite the Irish government’s claim that it does not normally use automated translation for content that gets published, the damage is already done. Those who speak the Irish language were first confused and then offended when reading the poorly translated content.
Proofreading the website before publishing the content could have helped prevent the public from seeing the translation issues. Even if the government rarely uses Google Translate and only did so for internal use, it has lost the trust of many Irish-speaking citizens who are upset about the mistake.
They don’t all believe that the government didn’t mean to use Google Translate on the site, and the ones who do are still offended that those who published the content didn’t bother to proofread. Clearly, this was a faux pas that will be hard to forget.
Luckily, problems like this one are easy to avoid, as long as you remember to ask a linguistic professional to look over your translated content before you publish it. And of course, you should avoid letting automated translation take the place of translation by a professional!