A final note on translation services

Lost in Translation

The last couple of posts I’ve written have been about translation, both in the healthcare industry, and via free, public, online services.  Translation services by machine are still far from perfect, although the SignTranslate system is specifically targeted at the interactions between doctor and patient, so would hopefully be more accurate.

I suppose I just wanted to make a note about the fact that online translators like Google Translate and Yahoo! Babel Fish, among others, are not infallible.  On the occasions that I do use them, I try to do more than one translation, or a reverse translation back into English, to somewhat ensure I’m getting something close to what I want.  I definitely don’t want to end up with something like this:


Also of note is the fact that perhaps sometimes it isn’t the biggest and most widely-spoken languages that necessarily need translations.  The array of languages offered by SignTranslate for use in doctors’offices (including Punjabi, Somali, Urdu, and Polish) may well reflect the populations who actually need the service.  Some patients may not even be literate, let alone able to speak a second language, so it makes much more sense than having translations for languages like German or Dutch, where speakers are very likely to have learned some English at some point.

Although I think it’s wonderful for people to be able to communicate in their native tongue, I think it’s more pressing that people who have no other choice are able to communicate at all.

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