One professional translator explains why LinkedIn users should be wary of the website's plans to use volunteer translators.
Hillary Clinton's infamous translation mishap back in March signified a deeper problem to Kevin Hendzel. When the word "reset" was mistranslated into Russian as "overcharge" on a gift to Russia's foreign minister, Hendzel, a spokesman for the American Translators Association, knew it meant the American public hadn't put a high enough premium on his craft.
So Hendzel was shocked to read LinkedIn's recent announcement; the professional networking site will reach out to its members to translate the site's content into several different languages, free of charge.
But Hendzel said of all sites, LinkedIn should be the first to recognize the hazards that may arise.
"There's some incongruity in my mind for a for-profit [company] to go out and ask people to do something for free and then put the money they saved in their pocket," he said. "If a for-profit enterprise is going to do it, they need to do it the right way."
Google doesn't even use its own translation feature, according to Hendzel, because it isn't useful verbatim.
"They know it doesn't work for professional level complexity," he said. "Google Translate itself isn't a bad tool, but it's better for 'gisting,' offering enough information to know what the [article] is about."
But because of LinkedIn's professional nature, Hendzel said the company needs to at least screen the participants to ensure their qualifications. He sent LinkedIn a formal letter outlining his concerns. The response explained the announcement was merely to fish for interested parties. Hendzel is wary of the claim, believing acting upon that survey would naturally be the next step.
"If there's any organization on the planet that should get this, it's LinkedIn, and the fact that they didn't just shows how deep the problem goes."