Natalia Infante Caylor, PhD.
When using online translation tools, keep in mind human translation is still superior as AI can make some embarrassing mistakes.
A couple of years ago we had our family over visiting from South America and from Green Bay, Wisconsin. They were actually my mother-in-law and my mom. It was the first time they were meeting, so they each had a lot to share with each other about the weather, where they live, food, customs, and a lot of other things. Since they were both here for Mother's Day, my husband and I gifted them each with an iPad mini. To say they were happy with their new device is an understatement, they were trying so hard to communicate with each other, keep in mind that one spoke only Spanish and the other only English.
Of course, it was better if someone else that understood both languages was with them at all times in case they needed help, but that was not always possible. They tried hand signs too, it was a lot of laughter back and forth. After trying hard to keep them engaged, someone suggested an online tool. So we showed them how to use Google Translator. At first, it seemed like it was a good relief to have them communicate that way. I was in the kitchen and they were both in the dining room when I noticed their communication going from so much laughter to complete silence, so I decided to check. Apparently, they were both saying messages to each other speaking in their native language and having the online tools interpreting that for them. So for example, if my mom said in Spanish "tengo hambre" the online tool would say "I'm hungry" to my mother-in-law and so forth.
When AI Translations Go Awry
Well fortunately I was nearby, my mom had said something through Google translator in Spanish for my mother-in-law to hear it in English, but this time it was not an accurate interpretation at all so when it was said in English, the voice message my mother-in-law got was instead a bit offensive and out of place. I was able to jump in and explain what was meant, and it was all good after.
Is good to keep in mind, that translating and interpreting bad information can get us in some trouble, and relying on online tools to translate important information for us can do the same. Human interaction is still an important part of our daily communication. #onlinetools, #interpreting, #keepinmind, #Spanish
Natalia Infante Caylor, Ph.D. is the owner of Hola Insights and has been conducting qualitative research for nearly ten years, interviewing consumers from different ethnic groups, in English and Spanish across the U.S.