Google Translate and Political Correctness


Politically Correct

Google Translate is far from perfect, we can all agree on that. The quality of a professional translation is still unattainable for the algorithms, and so it will be for a long time – cognitive and computer scientists confirm. You can’t use this tool if you work for institutions, for they require precision in their official documents, nor for other business purposes, as we will never stop to underline. But the translator software can enrich itself thanks to the help of users. If you have read our previous articles on the topic, (Machine or Translators, Google Translate) you may know approximately how this tool works and how it is likely to improve with suggestions and time. Google proactively asks users to enrich the service. And until now, it has worked decently to connect simple users across the globe. Many users, in a variety of languages.

But, the bigger it becomes, the bigger the troubles are. This is the last issue Google Translate may face: being more politically correct. Recently, the campaigning group All Out promoted a petition to remove slurs, pejoratives and insults towards homosexuals that are included in the translations of the software of Mountain View. Things that can happen when you don’t have the “human touch” or the supervision of a human translator, and you rely on simplistic statistical choices. Even though it is unintentional, we all know that computing is just a matter of data, and it is not semiotics or emotions. Even if computer scientists are working together with linguists for a more semantic web. The petition has reached more than 50 thousand users, a number which is still growing, and the software is now being reviewed by the company in order to adjust the results, clean them up from homophobic insults and remove the slurs.

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Matteo Poles

Social Media Specialist

Communication Trainee at TermCoord