Machine translations can be quite a hoot. Unless you are depending on them in business. "Misled ladies and horsemen of marketing:" began the advice in the BabelFish translation tto English of a blog post -- written in Spanish -- by Andrés Bianciotto, manager of Grey Interactive, Mexico, tracking back from his blog, Verborragia, to my post on the Chevy Apprentice make-your-own-commercial contest.

Then I went to SRF Global Translations (for whom I will soon be writing a blog about business ethics) and asked them for a nuanced translation by a literate human.
Here's the professional translation of the post, by SRF Global Translations. (The original, in Spanish, is below, followed by the amusingly bad BabelFish machine translation:)

Chevrolet launched a campaign in the style "Web 2.0", by publishing a series of items online (music, video clips, images), so that anyone could compose a commercial on the new Chevy Tahoe and have a chance of winning from a large pool of prizes.
Well, had this been done properly, Chevrolet could have learned a lot about how its clients (or anyone interested in getting a prize) see and feel about the features of their product.
The problem is that people are coming up with commercials SO hostile, that now people in GM are crying on the feedback and deleting it.
Misled ladies and gentlemen in GM marketing and publicity: this is not about "having the Web come up with a message that we can make our own later", it's about creating a product and offering a service that are f&*^ing amazing [English in the original]. Then you can let people design the commercials.
As long as this isn't happening, you should create the commercials themselves, buy TVs and magazines, and drill the "message" into people's heads by way of repetition, not dialogue.

Babel Fish: Worth What You Pay for It
Ardian at SRF Global Translations explained:
"The purpose of machine translation is to let people who do not speak the source language get a quick idea about the contents of the text. The results are often funny, because the machine cannot properly construe the metaphoric and idiomatic uses of words, and comes up with silly mistakes.
"Damas y caballeros", for example, is a very common Spanish expression for "ladies and gentlemen"; the Babelfish machine here translates "caballeros" as "horsemen" and the result is funny, because the text is obviously not targeted at horsemen.
The Spanish "pila de premios" is rendered as "battery of prizes", because "pila" also translates as "battery", and the machine often picks the most probable of the various meanings of a word. Babelfish is a free translation program, so one cannot expect much from it. As a rule of thumb, free translation programs should only be used as a preliminary tool, before having the texts translated by human beings.

Here's Bianciotto's original post, in Spanish:
Chevrolet lanzó una campaña al estilo "publicidad 2.0" donde publicó en línea una serie de elementos (música, secuencias de video, imágenes, etc) para que cualquier persona pudiera componer un anuncio sobre la nueva Chevy Tahoe y ganar una pila de premios.
Está bueno, si esto se hacía bien, Chevrolet podría aprender mucho de cómo sus clientes (o cualquier individuo interesado en hacerse con los premios) veían y expresaban las características del producto.
Lo malo, es que la gente está produciendo anuncios TAN contrarios, que ahora en GM lloran y los borran.
Despistadas damas y caballeros de marketing y publicidad de GM: no se trata de "dejar que la red forme el mensaje, del que después nos adueñamos", se trata de hacer un producto u ofrecer un servicio f*&#ing amazing. Así sí uno deja que la gente diseñe los anuncios.
Mientras eso no ocurra, hagan un anuncio, compren TV y revistas, y taladren el "mensaje" a la gente en la cabeza a fuerza de repeticiones, no de diálogo.

And here (he he) is the BabelFish translation:
Chevrolet sent to a campaign to the style "publicity 2,0" where it published a series of elements in line (music, sequences of video, images, etc) so that any person could compose an announcement on the new Chevy Tahoe and gain a battery of prizes.
It is good, if this became or, Chevrolet could learn much of how their clients (or any individual interested in taking control of the prizes) saw and expressed the characteristics of the product. The bad thing, is that people are producing SO opposite announcements, that now in GM they cry and they erase them.
Confused ladies and horsemen of marketing and publicity of GM: one is not "to leave network it forms the message, which later we appropriated ourselves", is to make a product or to offer a service f*&#ng amazing.
Thus yes one leaves people it designs the announcements. While that does not happen, they make an announcement, they buy TV and magazines, and they drill the "message" to people in the head by force of repetitions, not of dialogue.

Got that "ladies and horsemen of marketing"? If not, email or call SRF Global Translations at 212. 391.7528 for a professional translation. :>)


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B.L. Ochman is a social media marketing strategist for S&P 500 companies, including McGraw Hill, IBM, Cendant, and American Greetings. She publishes What's Next Blog and Ethics Crisis, where readers can confess their worst ethics transgressions and others can rate them on a scale of one to ten. She also blogs for MarketingProfs Daily Fix Blog.