Lol!Translating your site
I often get asked when I can translate my site into English.
Cyrus, since you put this in the business forum, it is presumed that it *is* about money - i.e. the business aspect of photography.
If this was posted in the Lounge/off topic forum, it would be another matter - just a curiosity or whatever.
Now, first I must confess I'm more than a little biased regarding this issue, since I'm a professional translator
But, consider this: your (business) web page is a kind of store front for your business on the Internet. You want your visitors to get the best possible impression of your business - the impression of quality and dependability, whatever you want to call it. In short, the impression should be positive, making the potential client trust you that with your business (whatever it might be) s/he will get the goods/services of the best quality possible.
Putting your trust in Google will not impart that feeling of "quality", I can assure you
There's no better way to drive away a potential customer than "cutting corners" and letting your visitors read a web page full of typos or hilarious (and/or sometimes offensive) mistranslations... It definitely does NOT reflect well on your business image.
Now, relying on Google to translate a piece of information you came across on a Web page in a foreign language, which you don't understand, but which interests you (e.g. a text in Japanese on Fuji web site describing a new Fuji MF folder) is another matter. You don't expect much, and even the gist of the article will often suffice.
However, using such approach for your own web site (and for business purposes) would not be the best business decision, I'm afraid - no matter how much money you save initially.
To propose an analogy - it's the same as if for your daughter's wedding you need a photographer, and you hire the neighbor's kid with the digital P&S camera that he purchased a couple of days ago, instead of a pro photographer. You'll get some kind of wedding photos, and you won't pay as much as you would pay a pro - but I doubt that the savings will matter in the end, when you see the photos
for most people the choice is either a free translation, or nothing. I think we can all agree that something imperfect is better than nothing at all. You don't give an impression of anything to the client if you never even make an effort to reach out in the first place.
Second, I know that business is about money -- but making money doesn't mean only taking immediate orders. It means first getting noticed and convincing people to take a deeper look at your work. Without at least an effort to attract foreign audiences, you don't get that either. Clients will understand that a site has been translated by Google. Even if it doesn't attract new business from abroad, the mere fact that it makes your site available to a greater audience is a good thing for business - especially when the cost is zero.
So suppose 1 in 10 visitor to your site from China gets so upset that Google has mistranslated something on your site that they swear they'll never use your services. That's still 9 more visitors who would have never visited your site at all anyway -- obtained at the cost of making a single link. Now, multiply that by the 10 or so languages that Google can translate.
Even if none of these people buy something right away, they now at least know about your existence, when otherwise they would have not. They don't really expect you to actually speak Chinese and Italian and Korean...they know that you've used google translator.
And, its not as if the Google translation is just pure gibberish. It does a pretty good job epecially since photo sites don't exactly have a lot of heavy, convoluted text.
Anyway, no one is suggesting that theres no more need for professional translators ... yet.
"To propose an analogy - it's the same as if for your daughter's wedding you need a photographer, and you hire the neighbor's kid with the digital P&S camera that he purchased a couple of days ago, instead of a pro photographer. You'll get some kind of wedding photos, and you won't pay as much as you would pay a pro - but I doubt that the savings will matter in the end, when you see the photos."
When I was getting a divorce many years ago the wedding albums were one of the few things we didn't argue over. Neither of us wanted them. And while my second marriage has lasted a while, I'd much rather have the kid's digital point and shoot pictures and the $10,000 I paid a pro photographer than have the pro photographer's wedding pictures.
Before you criticize someone, walk a mile in their shoes. That way when you do criticize them you'll be
a mile away and you'll have their shoes.
The only problem I see in using something like this is not that the translations do not make sense, but that the translation would make sense in a totally horrible way... for example that something like "I like to photograph in the early morning or late afternoon" would be translated to "I like to lick monkey ass in the early morning....". And then, how would I know if it was translated this way?
I think I will wait until they have it working right...
The English language seems to me to be particularly unsuited to automatic translations, having a structure which is partly unrelated to everything else (since it is a mixture of just about everything else).
I read Norwegian, English, and German. Even if I don't read French I find "auto-garbled" French into English translations even more confusing than the original French!
Very simple - retranslate it back into your original language. If the retranslated version is similar to what you originally wrote then you know that it is doing a good job.
Like I said, it does do a pretty good job of translation. And vistors won't hold the errors against you but will probably appreciate that you've at least tried to communicate with them.