Advertising translations / Werbung für Übersetzungen

Some translators like to quote bad translations by other translators, or egregious examples of machine translation, on their websites or in their advertising materials. I wonder if this tactic doesn’t backfire. The average client may be left with an impression that translation is a minefield (which it is) and that no translators can really be trusted – a message one doesn’t really want to give. I can quote a website I found once that is an example of machine translation gone wrong, a U.S. site advertising cheesecake. Since I last looked at the site, it has acquired the following note on its home page, making a virtue out of necessity I suppose:

‘To help make our recipes more accessible to the rest of the world, we have translated this page into Spanish, French, German, Italian and Portuguese. The translations were done strictly with Machine Translation, so they are not as exact as professional translation. You may find them to be somewhat humorous. We are in the process of professionally translating them, but that may be a few more months…’

Incidentally, when I was looking for the link, since the author has decided to leave it online despite being informed by a large number of translators that it is unintentionally funny, as well as being intentionally funny, I found it quoted by Christiane Sprinz on her food translators site – but my criticism is not directed against her and I think it’s OK to quote such a thing on a food translation site (Christiane is a food technologist by training and a specialist translator). The kind of thing I object to is a collection of ‘funny translations’.

I was wondering about this when I followed up an advertisement in the new MDÜ (publication of the BDÜ) I received today, for an online shop for translators. In fact they sell calendars with a whole series of different photos (mainly women, but not all) and texts about translators, it’s just that the first you encounter is Vanessa, from Asia (influenced by the Vanessa in Deutschland sucht den Superstar?!), with a text quoting a really bad machine translation of a software manual.
They also sell some software, for instance T.O.M. (Translator’s Office Manager), of which I have heard positive reports.
The Übersetzershop is apparently connected with LS Fachübersetzungen in Herford (clicking on ‘English’ has no effect).

Das Übersetzershop (Anzeige in den neuesten MDÜ) bietet Software und vor allem Kalender für Übersetzer. Man muss keine großen Stückzahlen nehmen – auch einen einzigen Kalender (oder Poster) kann man bestellen, mit Bild und Spruch. Der Kalender mit Bild von Vanessa macht sich über schlechte Maschineneübersetzung lustig. Ich frage mich, ob das nicht kontraproduktiv ist, dem Kunden nicht suggeriert, dass Übersetzungen dazu neigen, schlecht zu sein. Dabei zitiere ich eine Website über Käsekuchen mit gewollt und auch ungewollt lustigem Text auf deutsch (und in anderen Sprachen auch).

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