If you think that having Google Translate – as well as a dozen other online translation applications – around means that you’ve got it made in terms of your language needs, think again. While online translation applications are good for getting a general sense of what was written in a foreign language, it turns out that they are rather useless when it comes to knowing what was said with any degree of certainty.
YouTuber Tom Scott, in his latest video, takes us through some of the problems that occur with online translation and points out that it misses out on a lot of the subtle nuances of conversational language, including the difference between an American and an English person saying “that’s a brave idea!”, which clearly doesn’t mean the same thing.
Similarly, Scott notes the difference in expectations between monochronic and polychronic societies and how everything from beliefs to conversational innuendos differ from culture to culture. As such, online translation may provide you with a better idea of what a bilingual friend just posted on Facebook, but if you use it as a work around for professional communications or even everyday conversation you are likely to come off looking like a bit of a dope. Using these tools for such purposes anyway is, all in all, “a brave idea”, as Scott puts it.
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