C’est un fair cop: Mounties throw machine translation

Today’s Vancouver Sun reports that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in British Columbia have removed the automated Google translation from their website after complaints from franophones.

French versions of press releases had been available via the machine translation service since June. However, the paper reports:

“On Monday, the Radio-Canada website ran a story criticizing the practice, arguing many of the automatic translations were of poor quality and that RCMP divisions elsewhere in the country offer instant official translations.”

I’ve pointed out before that if you want to communicate well, you need a human translator. This is even more true on a website than elsewhere. Afterall, once you have made available the machine translation into umpteen languages, how do you know if it simply causes bemusement for foreign language readers. Or even worse, hilarity. The Mounties are now looking into hiring a human translator.

It seems when it comes to French translation, « Vous en avez pour votre argent » – you get what you pay for.