It’s a shame to dry the fruit with old uncles

Google Translate Dry Fruit

My name is Jill. I own a translation agency. And yes, I use Google Translate – sometimes.

Machine translation is getting more and more sophisticated by the day, and it can be exceptionally useful. Its accuracy is amazing…sometimes. Sometimes it’s not, though, and the challenge for users is that you don’t know which you’re going to get, and when.

Early this morning, I was drinking a cup of coffee and messaging with my good friend in Israel on Facebook. She writes to me in Hebrew, and I respond in English, but since my Hebrew isn’t what it used to be, I often paste her messages into Google Translate when I don’t fully understand.

In advance of traveling to Israel with my husband and our 13-year old son, I told her that I was thinking of trying to squeeze a visit to my grandmother’s distant family into our short and over-scheduled trip, as it has been decades since I last saw them. Her response?

חבל לייבש את הפרי אצל דודים מבוגרים
“It’s a shame to dry the fruit with old uncles”

I had no idea what that meant, so I pasted it into Google Translate. And I was completely confused – until I realized that she had mistyped my son’s name by one letter. In doing so, my son הנרי (Henry) became הפרי (the fruit), a mistake that a machine could not identify but that a human translator would immediately catch based on the context. That helped explain part of it, but it wasn’t until I asked her for clarification that I learned that “to dry” is slang for dragging someone to something that will likely be boring (no offense to my grandma’s cousins, of course).

Humans are, well, human. We make typos. We use slang. We enjoy humor and nuance. And as good as machines are at learning and predicting our behavior, they’re still not able to capture subtleties, nor are they consistently accurate enough for us to consistently trust them. And not all humans are good at that, either. Just because someone speaks a language doesn’t mean that they can translate well. Translation is part art and part science, and to convey the meaning and feeling of your message requires someone who understands the delicate balance between the two. That doesn’t mean that technology isn’t an essential part of the process – it just means it can’t be the only part.

For chatting on Facebook or reviewing documents for internal purposes, machine translation often does the job well enough. For informal documents, a friend or colleague that’s a native speaker can often do a great job translating. But when it really matters, use a professional translator, followed by a professional editor and proofreader, to make sure that your message, your voice and your brand reach your audience in the truest way possible.

Reach out to us to learn more!

Multilingual Connections Celebrates Its 15th Anniversary

March 24, 2020

EVANSTON, IL (March 24, 2020) – Multilingual Connections, a leading global language solutions company in the Chicago area that provides professional translation, transcription and multimedia localization services, announced its 15th anniversary. 

Silver Linings in Times of Coronavirus

March 20, 2020

Twenty years ago, as I was pursuing my doctorate in linguistic anthropology, I spent a year doing research in Israel among speakers of Judeo-Spanish. As part of my research, once a week I would travel from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv, where I would visit with elderly Greek Holocaust survivors – all native speakers of the …

Silver Linings in Times of Coronavirus Read More »

“Translation is About Bridging the Gap”

March 5, 2020

Multilingual Connections works with hundreds of talented linguists across the globe who are experts at translation, transcription, subtitling and more. Linguistic accuracy and cultural relevance for translation often require our linguists to do extra research to better understand the full context of the source text. To reward the linguists who go above and beyond, we …

“Translation is About Bridging the Gap” Read More »

Mark Bishop: Leading With Values

February 20, 2020

At Multilingual Connections, it’s our team that makes us the company we are today. Each team member brings their unique perspective and expertise – both professional and personal. This month we’re celebrating the fourth anniversary of our Chief Operating Officer, Mark Bishop. Mark joined Multilingual Connections after a 20-year career in nonprofit management. As the …

Mark Bishop: Leading With Values Read More »

How Love is Celebrated Around the World

February 14, 2020

It’s Valentine’s Day here in the U.S., which means it’s time to shower our loved ones with heart-shaped cards and chocolates to show them how much we love them. For many, we have become so accustomed to these acts of love on Valentine’s Day that they have now become part of American culture. But as …

How Love is Celebrated Around the World Read More »

Translation is a Balancing Act

January 31, 2020

At Multilingual Connections, we leverage our linguists’ talents and expertise and pair each project with the best linguist for the job, taking into consideration their native language, region, and area(s) of expertise. Linguistic accuracy and cultural relevance for translation often require our linguists to do extra research to better understand the full context of the …

Translation is a Balancing Act Read More »

President Shithole: (Mis)Adventures in Machine Translation

January 20, 2020

I’ve written many times that friends don’t let friends use Google Translate (most recently, It’s a shame to dry the fruit with old uncles). I readily admit, however, that at times it comes in handy – as in this love story between an American journalist and a French UN Peacekeeper, as well as a multitude …

President Shithole: (Mis)Adventures in Machine Translation Read More »

Going the Extra Mile in Work and Life

January 2, 2020

At Multilingual Connections, we leverage our linguists’ talents and expertise and pair each project with the best linguist for the job, taking into consideration their native language, region, and area(s) of expertise. Linguistic accuracy and cultural relevance for translation often require our linguists to do extra research to better understand the full context of the …

Going the Extra Mile in Work and Life Read More »

Engaging Our Global Team Part I: White Elephant Gift Exchange

December 18, 2019

Multilingual Connections is dedicated to helping our clients create meaningful connections with their global audience. Lately, however, I’ve been thinking about what this mission means for us as a company – and wondering how we can more effectively apply that mission internally.  

Connecting Authentically with Multilingual Audiences

December 4, 2019

One in five US residents speaks a language other than English at home, and just a quarter of internet users across the globe are native speakers of English. According to the American Marketing Association, organizations that limit their marketing strategies to one language are missing out on a significant opportunity to connect with and engage …

Connecting Authentically with Multilingual Audiences Read More »

Our Clients

Your Success is Our Success

We succeed when we help you understand, engage and grow your audience – and accomplish your business goals.

Relationships, Not Just Transactions

Sometimes you’re going to want to pick up the phone with questions, schedule a video chat or meet in person, and we welcome it!

Let us be your trusted partner

We believe in building long-term partnerships and finding the right solutions for your needs. We value our clients as partners and appreciate the trust they place in us.

radio-flyer-client
google-500
client-logo-barilla
client-logo-nbc
client-logo-fs
Major_League_Baseball
client-logo-nu
client-logo-cc
client-logo-prc

Office Location

Multilingual Connections
847 Chicago Ave Ste 250
Evanston, IL 60202, USA

Tel: +1-877-292-5264
Tel: +1-773-292-5500
Email: contact@mlconnections.com

Scroll to Top