So You Like “Free Online” Services?

Who doesn’t like Free stuff? However, there is always a cost associated with “free”, whether we want to admit it or not.

The original English version below is from an actual installation manual. By using a “Free Online” translation service, I placed the English version and translated it into Spanish. I then took the Spanish version and translated it back into English. The following are the results of this experiment. Note: The service only gave me a “Spanish” version one is expected to use in Spain, Mexico, Columbia, etc. In reality, it doesn’t go over all that well in other cultures.

Original English Version:

  1. Totally enclosed motors may be installed where dirt, moisture and corrosion are present, or in outdoor locations. The drain plug in the end bracket must be removed periodically to drain accumulated condensation.

“Free Online” Translated Version into Spanish:

  1. Los motores totalmente cerrados pueden instalarse donde están presentes, o en lugares al aire libre de suciedad, la humedad y la corrosión. El tapón de drenaje en el tramo final debe ser removido periódicamente para drenar la condensación acumulada.

“Free Online” Spanish translated back into English via the “Free Online” system:

  1. The totally enclosed motors can be installed where they are present, or outdoor venues dirt, moisture and corrosion. The drain plug in the final section should be removed periodically to drain accumulated condensation.

Bedsides the obvious mistakes, there is a sense of urgency mistake that may go unnoticed. In the second sentence the word “must” is replaced with “should”. Thus instead of being a “command” to the operator, it is now a “suggestion”, which the operator may totally forget about in the future.

The point of the above demonstration isn’t to cause alarm, everyone makes mistakes. The problem is: If you don’t read and even if you do read a second language (you must be far north of “fluent in” to be a qualified reviewer) how can you trust a “Free Online” translation system to have gotten the translation to the targeted audience correct?

The reason I put quotation marks around “Free Online” is for the first word, Free. After all, if your sales aren’t growing, customer service calls are higher, warranty cost are higher and your company isn’t invited into boardrooms, just how expensive is “Free”?

Why are my sales plummeting and my warranty cost increasing?

The money you spend today on a quality translation just might be less than 1% of tomorrow’s earnings.

There really is a cost to free!

I believe in the Association of Equipment Manufacture’s (AEM.org) motto: “I Make America”!  I will make sure your company can grow within your selected foreign markets. After all, you get what you don’t or do pay for.

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