Ambev : The perils of machine translation

The Brazilian brewing company’s use of Google Translate for an English language version of its corporate site garbles key messages.

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The feature

Visitors to Ambev’s corporate website are presented on arrival with Portuguese text.
A ‘Select language’ dropdown menu in the site header can be used to switch to ‘English’ or ‘Spanish’ language versions of the site. 
Selecting either option changes the text to the appropriate language. A message at the top of the user’s browser window indicates that the translation has been conducted by Google’s machine translation software.
If users visit the ‘About Ambev’ landing page after switching to the English language version of the site, they will see prominent text that reads:
‘Beer is our passion
Our business is your toast’.

The takeaway

A growing number of companies are using machine translation software to make the process of translating corporate content for their local digital channels faster and cheaper. 
Ambev’s corporate site highlights the risks of doing this without any human oversight or quality control. 
Much of the machine translated text on the ‘English’ version of this site is crude at best – and at times downright incomprehensible, as well as unintentionally amusing. 
Machine translation can make web editors’ jobs easier – but it cannot yet replace them.
First published 17 February, 2020
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