Chinese Whisper with Google Translate

Published 17th November 2017

Chinese whisper anyone?


A little while ago we wanted to see how reliable google translate was, especially when it came to back translation. Our resident Spaniard wanted to test Google on two Spanish phrases and see what happens when you put it through their back translation.


Take a look!

Example 1: To prefer what one is accustomed to

From what it should’ve said: ‘To prefer what one is accustomed to’, to ‘Peeling the mountain goat’… That’s rather impressive! Not many would link those two together.

Example 2: To flee hastily

At least with this one, its on the same topic. This ones goes from ‘To flee hastily’ to ‘Running away from my legs helps me’. The end translation doesn’t make much sense though! Surely you can’t run away from your legs…. and surely that would not help you!

As you can see the back translations are very far from the originals! That’s the case with Chinese Whisper… its starts correctly, but after being passed around it becomes something completely different. We know that Google Translate is a wonderful tool that so many people use, but you really should not relay on it in its current format. Idioms, similes, metaphors… all of these it struggles to understand correctly. Poetic translations would be doomed here! Maybe in the future with more development and research programmes like Google Translate might be able to offer more accurate translations. We do not like the idea of Chinese Whisper when it comes to translation. We believe the only way to get a right translation is straight from the native translator. A human translator.

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