Why Translation Apps Are Not Always A Safe Bet

Unafraid of scary words that sound like gibberish, the modern traveller bravely ventures out past his immediate surroundings. His support system–the innumerable translator apps available online–converts the sounds he hears, to something he can actually understand.

This modern traveller is not alone. Many of us choose to use such apps,
even while studying a language–because they are easy to use, convenient, inexpensive–many also promise us accurate translations.

Even dictionaries have begun jumping onto this bandwagon, offering translations for the more common languages heard around the globe.

What we (and the modern traveller) often overlook, is the nuances hidden in each word of every single language.

The word ‘eat’ in English has (according to one such app), 7 different
translations in French and Spanish, and 6 different translations in Italian. These words are similar to the English meaning of ‘eat’ but are used in different contexts.

It could be argued that translating a sentence as a whole removes the
chance of multiple possibilities and provides an answer in the right context. While correct, this is not the case for all phrases or words which have no literal translation into English. The same holds true for sentences or phrases being translated into English; sometimes there is no logical meaning to it.

For example: It’s raining cats and dogs, does not mean what we think it does
if translated into French, for example.

Raining Cats and Dogs

Now try translating this German idiom ‘Alles hat ein Ende, nur die Wurst hat zwei’. While it translates to ‘Everything has an end, only the sausage has two’
(in English), its meaning is closer to the English saying ‘All good things must come to an end’.

While each word is translated, the context and meaning of a sentence is not conveyed in the same manner. The essence is lost, quite literally, in translation.

in translation.

Instead of relying heavily and exclusively on a translator app, the modern
traveler would benefit if he studied the language with a native speaker.

They are the only people uniquely qualified to explain the subtle
differences in the usage of common words, the colloquialisms and the context in which they should be used.

Take the words, ‘I’m sorry’, for example. Simple words; in Spanish, this phrase takes on slightly different meanings in different situations.

People usually say “Lo siento” for an apology (if something was your fault),
and (if you are trying to get someone’s attention) say “Disculpe” or “Perdón”.

Native speakers, additionally, can help the modern traveller avoid mangling
words in whichever foreign language he wishes to speak by coaching him in the exact accent and pronunciation.

For a seamless travel experience, the modern traveler should arm himself
with both a prior knowledge of the language as well as a reliable and accurate translation app. After all, it is never a bad idea to have a backup plan.

Visit our website to become the brave modern traveler who speaks a language with ease!

*Pictures are for representation purposes only.