I thought it was about time I re-drafted the German version of my CV. So, I happily saved it as an .ODT and started a project for the English to German translation using my favourite translation software, the lovely, Open Source, OmegaT.
OmegaT has an integrated Google Translate look-up tool, which I had a short glance and giggle at.
Whilst I am sometimes quite impressed at the results Google Translate can produce, it seems to be having an off day today. See below:
Original Text Fluent German-speaker and has been self-employed overseas.
Google Translate: Fließend Deutsch-Lautsprecher und wurde selbständig Übersee.
The above, back into English: Fluent German-loudspeaker and became self-employed overseas*.
*Note: this is a very literal translation, inferring seas were indeed crossed, and did not consider that “overseas”, when written by a Brit, tends to mean abroad in general.
A better suggestion: Englisch Muttersprachlerin mit Erfahrung als freiberufliche Übersetzerin in Deutschland.
German speakers will note that, in the German translation of my CV, I have changed a few things around. It now emphasises that I am an English native-speaker, since the fact I speak German is now obvious from the language of the CV. Secondly, I felt it flowed better to use the “mit Erfahrung” formulation than the equivalent of “has been”. German CVs tend to have a bias toward nouns. Thirdly, freelance and self-employed basically mean the same thing, but the more accurate word,’ freelance’, has negative connotations in English that are not reflected in the German ‘freiberuflich’, so I have used its equivalent. Lastly, what is the point in saying “overseas” any longer, when I can detail that it was Germany? Surely that will be of greater interest to German clients.
As you can see, some translation jobs go beyond mere editing – there is a bit of thought regarding one’s target audience and the intention of the text.
Translators are often told, mockingly, that there is no need for their profession in a world where everyone speaks English, and for everything else there is Google Translate.
I think the reason why our industry still exists is made amply clear by the example above. Even when committing one of the cardinal sins of translation – by translating a text as a non-native speaker of the target language – I still beat Google Translate hands-down. That code could not grasp the difference between a speaker and a loudspeaker, nor could it comprehend the need to intelligently alter the text to suit the target audience. That’s the trouble with computers, and machine and computer-aided-translation (CAT) tools – they just cannot understand what they are saying. Whilst I am optimistic for a world where this is no longer the case, for now I shall rest easy, knowing my profession is quite secure…