If you want to reach a wide audience, a text of any kind (eg literary, technical-scientific, hypertext, etc …) must be translated as accurately as possible, so as to preserve the purpose that it intended to achieve in the language version original. The translator must also know very well the target language and be able to make the registers, the words and the expressions related to the culture of LA and the idiomatic phrases , that is why it is necessary to contact a mother tongue translator with an excellent knowledge and mastery of the target language. Another fundamental element to keep in mind is the context in which the text arises, and automatic translators such as Babelfish and Google Translator do not deduce it, translating literally (not to mention the technical terms, which they may not know): therefore, it is better to leave the “do it yourself” and contact a professional translator. Do not let yourselves be fooled by advertisements that praise the potential of certain machine translation programs; even if compared to the past there have been improvements, the result will never be a translation worthy of that name, no automatic translator can replace the human translators.
A badly translated text (especially from automatic translators) can lead to unpleasant consequences. The lesser evil is the hilarity that can arouse in native speakers; moreover, an inaccurate or too literal translation can be a synonym of little seriousness, and a poorly translated word or concept can even cause a diplomatic incident.
Lately we are talking a lot about the site that should (yes, use the conditional) to represent Italy in the world and promote tourism, Italia.it. Some time ago, an announcement on one of the leading job vacancies sites for translators caused the indignation of the latter because it proposed an inadequate, unprofessional rate. This announcement was about Italia.it. Some translators signed a petition, which resulted in an open letter to the Minister of Tourism Brambilla. Now I have a doubt: having regard to the painful translation of the site in different languages, will they have found people who will have accepted the tariff in question, or will they be entrusted to an automatic translator to save money? Here are some blogs that talk about how some pages have been made:
A Danube Po: Magic Italy: translation spells (German)
Dailynterpreter: On the plague in Romagna and beyond (English and French)
La Repubblica Blog: Help, the plague in Romagna
Journalism: Italia.it again in trouble: the French version is full of errors
Another question that arises spontaneously is this: when will the time come when professional translators will stop being underestimated? If they had relied on expert translators, these things would not have happened. If from the top of a Ministry we consider the translation and translators in a certain way, let alone how they are considered by others “non-professionals” placed at lower levels of the social scale! What are they waiting to regulate the professions of translator and interpreter as they have done in some countries? Why not establish a register or a certification as for other categories of workers? Even the bouncers have a professional register …
Personally, I would agree with the establishment of a register or certification, because both would guarantee the quality of the services offered by translators, interpreters and linguistic mediators.