Hi “Google”, Hello “AutoCAD”!

What translator has not, at least once, been compared to Google Translate? I, for one, find myself constantly being referred to as “Google”, particularly by one specific friend who is an engineer. My final response: calling him AutoCAD. Only then did he understand…

“Hello Google, how is it going?” That is the greeting I have so frequently received from a friend who is an engineer and considers translators different, less efficient versions of Google Translate.

To me, however, such a nickname is but an insult. A translation offered by Google Translate stands nowhere near one provided by a professional translator who takes the time to understand the content of a text and grasp its spirit before translating it. Translators live the substance of a text in its different phases and feel the emotions it brings out. They live both the writer’s experience, as well as that of the reader. Translators take the time to produce a text they are proud to call their own. They transmit any and all nuances machines can not detect. Altogether, every translator is granted the gift of creation.

A machine on the other hand is devoid of all feelings. An example alone is sufficient to illustrate how flawed such a translation can be:

When we enter, “It’s raining cats and dogs. I could really use an umbrella right now” into Google Translate, the translation provided in French reads: “Il pleut des chats et des chiens. Je ne pouvais vraiment utiliser un parapluie à l’heure actuelle.”

There is nothing to add to such an all-encompassing example.

A machine can not understand a text; it just simulates such a comprehension.

A machine can not understand a text; it just simulates such a comprehension.

What if engineers were nicknamed AutoCAD? I’ve tried that with this friend I mentioned, and it turns out he doesn’t like it; he says this program can not replace engineers. True. The same goes for translators. Maybe then we’ll keep calling engineers “AutoCAD” until we, too, are seen differently.