Noser Engineering : Making nonsense

Translation software scores beta minus

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The feature

Noser Engineering, a Germany based IT consulting and services company, relies on translation software to caption corporate videos. Noser seeds videos across its site in the right-hand column, with subject matter related to the current section; for example, ‘Learn more about the Noser way of Testing’ in Activities, Working @ Noser in Careers. Most centre on ‘talking heads’ and are in the speaker’s native language, which is predominantly German. With few exceptions (where senior managers are featured) the same video is used on both the German- and English-language versions of the site, though the titles are generally translated to match. Videos are launched in an overlay viewing frame that includes a button to activate captions. This indicates the default choice, which is the same as the speaker’s language, and offers a menu of 54 alternatives, from Afrikaans to Yiddish. It is tagged a ‘Beta’ version and in English the translations produce an often surreal flow of phrases; for example, “beringen scammers come for the Greeks too tight waste the Greeks”. The same screen and controls are used on the company YouTube channel that is linked to from the on-site viewing frame.

The takeaway

Much of Noser’s client base including its multinational element is in German-speaking parts of Europe, so the use of German as the default language in its online videos is a natural one. The fact that it supports a full English-language version of its dotcom site indicates, though, that it has an eye on other markets or at the least on multinational executives that it needs to reach in the universal language of business (English). The option to customise the captioning of videos is a further indication of this intent, but its current level of efficacy is producing the opposite impression to that Noser desires. It could be argued that the labelling of the translation function as a ‘Beta’ version is a clear signal to users to expect a service still in development. Nevertheless, the level of nonsense produced in English is surely much too way off the mark to be deemed acceptable for public use, however obvious the caveat utilitor. Translation software has always been a hazardous option, but with Google Translate raising the bar considerably. Noser runs the risk that its reputation, especially given its line of business, is lost in the process.
First published 04 December, 2012
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