A local op-ed first posted by CtLatinoNews.com in July, has found its way to a national discussion in the media on the perils of computerized translation of English material to Spanish language by media outlets.
The post, an opinion article by Bessy Reyna, a well-known author and writer who first noticed the discrepancy caused by a Google computer translation of a local Connecticut newspaper’s articles to Spanish, stated most of the translations were nonsensical and in some instances, downright funny.
Now, Fox News, at its FoxNewsLatino.com website, has a news story based on the CtLatinonews.com original op-ed article and a Poynter Institute (a premiere media think tank) report on the struggles of the country’s media effort to capture a Latino audience.
FoxNewsLatino states, “One newspaper in Connecticut took a bit of a shortcut when putting together their … ‘Español’ section. Instead of hiring or finding someone to write and translate articles in Spanish, the Hartford Courant’s Spanish-language section – ‘Courant en Español’ – is simply a version of its homepage run through Google Translate.”
Reyna’s opinion piece, Courant En Español – Have Fun Get Angry which was first posted in CtLatinoNews.com in July, led to the Courant adding a disclaimer a few weeks later to its En Español section that says, in part, “The Courant has begun using a free and popular software developed by Google to translate stories into Spanish. However, readers should be aware that due to limitations in the Google software some of the translations of the English headlines and articles don’t always translate accurately word-for-word into Spanish.”
Andrew Beaujon of the Poynter Institute, who closely follows media issues, wrote in the MediaWire blog, “The limitations of this approach are immediately apparent to Spanish speakers.”
Reyna, who wrote a follow-up CTLatinoNews.com opinion piece, also said, “I still think that if the Courant wants to truly offer a product that provides information to their Spanish-speaking readership about their community, they could at least hire someone to translate the translator. The guessing game (trying to figure out what the Spanish translation means) is painful and time consuming.”