I don’t do nearly enough (or any) linking to other inspiring blog posts. Today that will change. I came across an eloquent and inspiring (not to mention blood-pressure-raising) post today critiquing a Chronicle of Higher Education blog post that clearly should never have been published – which attacked doctoral students’ dissertation titles as a statement on the illegitimacy of black studies departments as a whole. Seriously. Picking on PhD students, by someone with no graduate education, as though black studies is a complete waste of time because it doesn’t meet the writer’s standards of legitimate, relevant topics. By the way, did you know that racism is dead? We’ve got a black president! Clearly studies that focus on race are no longer relevant. Especially topics in black studies that are written on by, you know, black scholars.
Anyway, what I will link to is not that offensive and – hey – less than worthwhile post. I link to a much better one.
“The Inferiority of Blackness as a Subject” at Tressiemc <– Click that link; read and weep for humanity. Get mad. Sign the petition. Share to your own audience. Let’s not put up with this kind of thing being posted at Chronicle of Higher Ed.
I’ve come across a few sites lately – commercial and academic – that offer “translation” into several languages. I click on them out of curiosity. The link does not take me to a translation.
It takes me to Google Translate!
I have a few things to say about this:
- It’s unprofessional. It looks unprofessional too. That bar at the top of the site that says it’s being translated by Google? Kind of ruins the effect.
- If you’re just sending your site text to Google, why not offer all languages? I just visited a site that offers about 7; another (Rakuten) offers a handful. Google can handle more than 7 languages.
- It’s deceptive. Listing only a few languages makes it look like you’re offering actual human translations that you made or commissioned yourself. In fact, this is what I thought about all of the sites that I’ve visited recently that “offer” translations via Google. There’s no button that says “powered by Google Translate,” only a few flags that the user assumes lead to a real translation. They don’t. They lead to Google.
- Last but not least – it’s laughable. The translations aren’t so much inaccurate as hilarious. The only reason I can use the English Rakuten.jp is that I know Japanese and can guess at the original phrasing that produced such funny English. I have to double-check everything with the original Japanese text that it helpfully supplies a link to.*
This is the impression that your “serious” commercial or academic site is leaving: you’re naive about machine translation; you’re too cheap or unimaginative to get your own local translations; you’re out to deceive your users; and you’re an Engrish generator.
Is this the impression you want to leave?
Machine translation isn’t here yet. It may never be. Machine translation is hard. At the very least, get a native speaker of each language to read each end of the translation. You can identify the parts that need to be fixed simply by watching them making funny faces.
Google Translate may be okay in a pinch if you need to, for example, order something from a storefront or service that isn’t in your language. If you want to be taken seriously, find a human.
* The reason I use Rakuten’s international English site is to narrow down the stores to ones that ship internationally. I wish I could use the Japanese site with this filtering.
This one is going to be quite off the topic of research – well, maybe it links in with digital humanities. The digital part. The part that uses computer hardware.
But seriously? Writing a whole article about your own incompetence (and ignorance) when it comes to hooking your laptop’s headphone jack up to your stereo? With one cable? When what you should be talking about is the new Thunderbolt connection in MacBook Pros?
Spare us! Please!
But since you won’t, at least indulge me in a response.
Continue reading using a cable too difficult for reporter
Guess what? One of my photos (of a baseball game!) is on the first page of results when you do a Yahoo! image search for “kinds of motions.”
Can I just say how much I love that my Flickr stats show me this kind of detailed information about how people find my photos and what they are looking at?
Also, I am dying to know more about the person who did this search but I guess that is the kind of detailed information I cannot have.