We sometimes use Google Translate to get a gist translation for example to check the sense of a quick email. We did laugh yesterday however when we had a short piece of Polish to cross check and Google came back with this…
“On the advice of your curator, who informed me of the departure of Mr vacuum cleaner, I include material that has been specially prepared for maintenance.”
Could this curious gentleman really be called Mr Vacuum Cleaner?
I wondered if it was perhaps a generic translation for Mr Hoover so I sent a quick query off to our Polish expert who had written the original message.
The reply pinged back within a few minutes – no, Mr Vacuum Cleaner was not real. Vacuum cleaner is 'odkurzacz' in Polish, but the gentleman’s name was Kurzacz. Close but not exact.
Sums up Google Translate in a nutshell – close on the odd occasion but not exact.
I related the story to my daughter who offered a similar tale of a friend of hers who had looked up the word “overall” in Google Translate, intending for it to mean “in general”. Her friend happily used the offered translation, inserting the noun for a kind of apron into his sentence…
It’s good to know that Google Translate now includes optional definitions for adjective, adverb and noun, but a little knowledge remains a dangerous thing.
If your company image is important and you value accuracy, use a living breathing professional translator with a mind of their own.