How Google Translate can wreck your message.

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.


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

2. Contract: agreement or shrinking?

Parties engaged to execute contract work


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


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)


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

5. Coverage: insurance or journalism?

Insurance coverage


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.

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