How Google Translate can wreck your message.

Jasmine Yow
Jan 26, 2015 · 2 min read
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Will Computer-Aided Translation (CAT) software replace humans at some point? Some say it will by 2029! No one knows for sure, but here are 5 examples I’ve come across in clients’ websites of how Machine Translation (MT) can go very wrong, making mistakes no business can afford.

1. Compound: chemical or place?

The protection scheme also covers the loss and damages while equipment is at the insured’s compound.

该保障计划还涵盖了损失和损害,而设备是在被保险人的化合物.

The phrase above was translated by Google into “the insured’s chemicals”.

2. Contract: agreement or shrinking?

Parties engaged to execute contract work

从事执行工作的收缩的一方

That has been machine-translated as “shrinking work”. One might think the company is about to fold!

3. Property: possession, or quality?

The party who owns the property

拥有特定属性的一方

Google has translated that into the party with “certain qualities”.

4. Charges: payment or accusation?

Funding for charges (in cases whereby employers face any form of financial difficulties)

资金的罪名

That has been translated as “the crime of having money”!

5. Coverage: insurance or journalism?

Insurance coverage

该报导

Google translated that into “the insurance report”. It really should’ve been 受保范围。


The examples above demonstrate how words with several meanings can be a real stumbling block for Machine Translation. Therefore, you should never rely on it alone for business-critical content.

Need translation work done? Feel free to drop me a message, or scan the QR code below to add me on wechat:

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Extra goodie: here’s a helpful article on when to use CAT, MT and human translators.

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