Poor translations offend foreign investors

Agents who are attempting to tap into the Chinese investor market may be causing offence with their poorly translated copy, according to a translation company.

According to Leo Lui, chief translator for My Translator, using machine-based translation such as Google Translate runs the risk of not only confusing prospective buyers, but also offending them as the translation can sometimes be incomprehensible to the Chinese.

“Unfortunately, computers don't really understand human languages, so your Chinese translation may end up being very inaccurate," he said. "Computers do a fairly good job of translating individual words, but have serious limitations when translating complex sentences. Knowing about these limitations, however, can help you get the best Chinese translation possible.”

As an example, Mr Lui supplied the following English text:

"The main bedroom leads directly through sliding doors onto the pool area, the second and third bedroom will accommodate double beds, the bathroom is central and there is also an additional separate toilet. Outside there is a double bay shed complete with power and lighting that has been used as a workshop, there is accommodation for two cars, the owners have the place in excellent condition, a few steps lead up to the level yard from the pool area."

The text was translated through a computer-based translation program. However, the text read from a Chinese perspective shows a sentence with completely different meaning:

"The master bedroom, a direct result of the pool area through sliding doors, the second and third bedroom can accommodate a double bed, bathroom is central, and have extra separate toilet. Outside power and lighting complete a Double Bay shed has been used as a shop, two car accommodation, the owners are in excellent condition, there are several steps leading to the pool area of the horizontal ones."

Russell Robertson, CEO of My Translator, said it was only a matter of time before an agent was prosecuted for inaccurate description caused by poor translation.

“It is far safer to use human translation over machine translation and I don’t think it will be long before a real estate agent or office in Australia is prosecuted for misleading information appearing online using incorrect translation from a machine,” he said.

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