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“Google quietly revealed that it had changed the world with a pair of wireless headphones.”

by Japanese Translation Service

Now, that’s one helluva statement to be bandying around, even in a climate of “super” this and that, and that and this “of the century”!

Okay, I’ve tipped my hand -- You’re now clued into the fact that I’m about to take issue with the recently published article Google's Pixel Buds translation will change the world by Andrew Tarantola. Let’s, therefore, cut to the chase with a closer look at:

  • The efficacy of the Google Translate Technology (aka machine translation), and
  • Clueless Technical Reporters.

First, that demonstration video in the article is about interpretation, and NOT translation. A minor detail to be sure, especially given that many people use these terms interchangeably not to mention that Google Translate underpins Pixel Buds. However, if you bill yourself as a “professional technical writer”, let’s get our terminology right, no?

So, how do Google's Pixel Buds work?

Voice recognition technology converts human speech -for example, English- into text which is then run through Google Translate with the translated -for example, Japanese- text then converted back into human speech to be played over the tiny speakers in Pixel Buds. The key to this process is Google Translate -nothing new there at all. The simple fact of the matter is:

The hyperbole surrounding Google Translate Technology does not match the reality.

You can verify this yourself with a simply experiment as described this article.

Essentially, Google has taken an existing technology -i.e. Google Translate- that is widely discredited by translation industry professionals and repackaged it. This is, of course, entirely within Google’s right being a for-profit entity whose primary mission is, well, to generate profit. Problem, though, is the misinformation and marketing spin used to promote these cr@ppy products. And, this is exactly why we need to call out Clueless Technical Reporters that perpetuate the marketing spin!

Fortunately, this has all been said before. Unfortunately, thought, the author didn’t get to read this article as witnessed by the soaring hype surrounding Google's Pixel Buds:

“The frictions of international diplomacy could be smoothed as well, ensuring that not only are a diplomat's words faithfully translated but that a copy of the conversation is recorded as well.”

International Diplomacy? Hmmm, more likely to be the root cause of WW3! Google Translate has a dubious track record on the international stage: read Police use of Google Translate 'mistake' 

Has machine translation technology improved in the 5 years since this article was published? If you’ve worked through the simple experiment described a couple of paragraphs above, the answer must be a resounding “No”. If the truth be told:

When this experiment is repeated 5 years from now Google Translate Technology -and all other machine translation technologies- will still be found wanting. (The many reasons for this are for another article.) 

The question that needs to be asked of technical writers is: 

“Have you earned that pedestal you use for Technical Reporting?”

In other words, what is your expert authority? Can you actually speak & write fluently in a second language? Have you studied languages and linguistics? Or, are you part of the problem that is simply contributing to “product spin”? 

Naturally, it would be Super Awesome if you were a qualified and experienced professional translator… Because then the rest of us translators that put bread on the table with professional translation work would buy into your opinions…



About the Author
Ivan Vandermerwe is the CEO of SAECULII YK, the owner of Japanese Translation Service Visit SAECULII for the latest professional case studies, articles and news on Japanese Translation Services

Copyright (C) SAECULII YK. All rights reserved. Reproduction of this article is permitted with inclusion of the "About the Author" reference as is (including text links, japan-translators.saeculii.com/english/services/japanese-translation-services.cfm), and this copyright information. Articles may not be altered without written permission from SAECULII YK.

Tags: Free Japanese Translation · Japanese Translation Services · Machine translation (MT) · Professional · Translation Services Japan · Translation Services Tokyo · Translator Interpreter







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