Thursday, December 1, 2011

‘Let Them Eat Chinglish!’: Cheap Translation and the Two-Speed Internet

Whenever I have the disgrace of having to slog through Microsoft’s machine-translated support documents in search of some distant glimmer of insight into why its mediocre products are keeping me from shortening my work day, I come to realize that intensified use of post-editing and huge language corpora by more and more companies will create a two-speed Internet. Well-curated English copywriting for English speakers, on one hand. And Globish, Spanglish, Chinglish and Engrish for the unwashed masses. In other words, a Spanish-speaker will get garbled messages that sort of sound like your native language but are just not quite there. We are building a garbage-strewn desert and calling it the future.The poor man's universalism of l10n gurus is just that: a second-rate Utopia for a two-speed Internet.

Miguel Llorens is a freelance financial translator based in Madrid who works from Spanish into English. He is specialized in equity research, economics, accounting, and investment strategy. He has worked as a translator for Goldman Sachs, the US Government's Open Source Center, and H.B.O. International, as well as many small-and-medium-sized brokerages and asset management companies operating in SpainTo contact him, visit his website and write to the address listed there. Feel free to join his LinkedIn network or to follow him on Twitter.


Sandra Cravero said...

Don't you feel they are leading everyone to another Babel? Because I do. Great posts!

Gueibor said...

It does feel like Babel rising - especially when the clueless masses abide, and abortions like "el estado del arte de la tecnología" start piercing my eyeballs from every direction.
As if Spanglish wasn't bad enough.

raheny_eye said...

The guys have now finally realised that machine translation will never be like... well... translation.

BUT there is a workaround! If you impoverish the language sufficiently, it becomes machine translatable.