Miami-Dade, stop using Google to Translate Creole

IMG_20180331_162346_050.jpgWhen it comes to Haitian Creole Translation, Miami-Dade County is a big fan of Google Translate. They use it to translate anything in Creole whether the translation makes sense or not.

by Jonel Juste

Before Google Translate, Miami-Dade had another way of translating documents in Creole. They used anyone working in the city as translator, whether it’s the office clerk or the janitor whose the only qualification as a translator is the ability to speak Creole (I personally met some of these unofficial translators). Of course, most of these translations were wrong. Just because you can speak a language doesn’t mean you can translate anything into it.

Now with Google Translate, the Haitian office clerk or the janitor has lost his or her translation gig, which was not remunerated, but at least made the unofficial translator feel important or needed in the workplace. Some even counted on it for a promotion. But all this is over with Google Translate. Once again, the machine has replaced humans; another job stolen by a robot, in this case an AI (Artificial intelligence).

Yes, Google Translate is an Artificial Intelligence that uses random algorithm. Sometimes it gets it right, but sometimes it’s total gibberish. It’s just gambling with the language. When it comes to Creole, Google Translate can be totally stupid and generate nonsense. But Miami-Dade doesn’t care. People are complaining all the time about this, but the local government doesn’t hear anything. When you go to the city offices and you see things written in “Creole”, you instantly know this garbage was automatically translated. When you confront them, they have the nerve to tell you the job was done by a “certified translator”. I talked to a Creole linguist about this and he told me there’s no certified translator for Haitian Creole in Florida since this kind of certification doesn’t even exist.

One example, on a Haitian community newspaper in Miami, I saw something written in Creole that didn’t make any sense to me as a Creole speaker. It was a municipal advertisement warning people that dumping trash illegally would carry fine. The original English wording was “Dirty crimes carry fine”. That was translated by “Krim sal pote amann”, which is a word for word translation that came straight out of Google Translate. When I contacted them, they told me “certified translator” translated it and added there wasn’t a perfect translation for it. There may  not be a perfect translation for it, but at least there is one that could make sense, I replied. I ask them for the original sentence that was translated and that sent it to me. When I Google Translated it, I found the same translation that the “certified translator” did, word for word (see picture). There was no human translation at all. Nobody attempted to translate anything, Google Translate did the job.

This is not the only Creole translation in Miami that made me upset. Once I saw a “Pedestryen”, which is a faulty translation of the English “Pedestrian”. The real translation is “Pyeton”.

So Miami-Dade, do the right thing, because it’s insulting when you’re doing it wrong. People are watching.


Author: jjuste02

Journalist, Communication Specialist, Social Media Marketer, blogger, writer, etc.

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