All posts by Surrey Translation Bureau Team

Translation Error Suppresses Evidence in Narcotics Case

A picture of Lady Justice, who often needs to be supported by a professional translation agency

As a professional translation agency that has amassed years of experience in translation over the years, the team at Surrey Translation Bureau know more than anyone the subtle nuances that surround professional translation, and how the smallest errors can have catastrophic effects in tone and meaning. In fact, this is why we firmly advise that translation apps be left for casual use only, and that any important translation is undertaken by professional (human!) translators. Unfortunately, a highway trooper in Kansas, USA, had different ideas recently.


What should have been a standard open-and-shut case in America has seen vital evidence suppressed this month, after it was alleged that said evidence was obtained unlawfully after an officer used Google Translate to gain consent to search the suspect’s vehicle.
The officer had pulled over a Spanish-speaking man, and, after realising the language barrier, attempted to use the app to aid in communication and to request permission to search the car. The officer in question attempted to translate “can I search the car?” but video evidence of the scene shows that the app translated the sentence too literally, resulting in the officer asking the suspect “can I find the car?”, along with other unintelligible sentences.
Professional interpreters testified that the service provided by Google Translate can be used to translate things literally, but should not be used for conversation, leading the judge overseeing the case to rule that “the court does not believe it is reasonable to rely on the service to obtain consent”. He also granted the suspect’s request for the evidence to be suppressed.
This is yet another case that underlines the fact that translation apps are best left to casual use, and should not be relied upon when it comes to important professional situations – these are best left to the experts, who can translate things accurately, and account for a number of things that computer programming cannot, meaning that messages will be passed along clearly, and not lost in translation.


If you’re in need of translation services and cannot afford to see mistakes like those above happen, then you’ll want to enlist the support of a professional translation agency like Surrey Translation Bureau. All of our staff are highly skilled and experienced in delivering expedient, accurate results. Read more about our many services today, or contact us to discuss what you need our assistance with in more detail.

“Speak My Language”: More Thought Required Regarding Accessibility and Translation Services

A woman holding a translation speech bubble at a professional translation agency
As a highly in-demand professional translation agency, Surrey Translation Bureau knows more than anyone just how vital translation services are in today’s increasingly multicultural society, whether they’re needed for personal matters or business transactions.

Following the findings of a recent report, councils have been urged to reassess the policies surrounding interpretation and translation, so that more effective services may be implemented across various public sectors. The report, undertaken by the Wales Audit Office, focuses on those whose main language is not English or Welsh, as well as deaf people who communicate using sign language, and states that many of these people struggle to access public services including governments schemes, Citizens Advice, or even health services due to language barriers.

Of course, this noticeably focuses on public sector companies, many of which are more likely to have policies in place for these situations, and most private businesses fall behind local authorities when it comes to matters such as language accessibility. That isn’t to say that the private sector fails completely; international businesses are more likely to be familiar when it comes to translation services, but even SMBs may want to consider options such as multiple language choices (with translations carried out by a professional translation agency) for their websites.

Ultimately, both public and private sectors need to familiarise themselves with the process of utilising translators and interpreters in order to best meet the needs of those using their services, and remove any language barriers that stand in the way of effective communication between different parties.

If you’re in need of a local professional translation agency with a team full of fully qualified linguistic professionals, then Surrey Translation Bureau is here to help! As an independent, family-owned business, we work with the qualified translators from around the world to ensure you get the best possible translation. Get in touch with us today to find out more about our various translation services, which also include extras such as localisation, transcription, and desktop publishing – simply call 01252 730 014, email, or fill out the pop-up form on any of our website pages.

The Risks of Free Translation

A laptop open to Google Translate - an inferior alternative for a UK Translation Service
Due to the cross-country nature of the internet and ever-increasing globalisation in most commercial markets, utilising a UK translation service has become essential to all kinds of businesses. This means that many small companies, often on restricted budgets, are now in need of reliable translations and frequently end up turning to free online translation software like Google Translate. Could this be creating additional problems for businesses rather than offering a cost-effective solution though?

In an earlier blog, we had discussed some of the “perils” that come with free machine translation, but its growing popularity demands a bit more discussion on the topic.


What’s so tempting about automated machine translation?

It’s easy to see why many businesses turn to software like Google Translate: not only is it easily accessible, but the process is straightforward (simply copy and paste!), the results instantaneous, and, best of all for the budget-conscious, it’s completely free! Who wouldn’t be clamouring to use something with benefits like those?


What could go wrong?

Unfortunately, the old adage “you get what you pay for” very much applies to automated machine translation and whilst the process may be simple and free, the translations themselves are generally quite poor and certainly not something you would want to use to represent your business.


Part of the problem lies with the fact that a machine simply cannot decipher contextual clues the same way that humans can, which results in far less nuanced translations at best, and complete gobbledegook at worst. Translation software is best used for single words and simple fragments to help someone understand the gist of things; longer pieces of prose or complicated text are something that free machine translation tools simply cannot handle right now.


The sum "1 + 1 = 3" on a blackboard


However, despite machine translation being best suited to casual use, even this can go awry, such as in the recent case of a Palestinian’s cheerful “good morning” Facebook post being incorrectly machine translated as “attack them”, which actually led to his arrest.



So what can be done? Well, if you want a timely, accurate translation suitable for using in a professional environment, then your best bet is to hire a bona fide UK translation service provider like Surrey Translation Bureau.

Instead of rolling the dice with free machine translations, using professional translation services means qualified linguists taking note of the tone of your document and its intended audience, and choosing the correct terminology and style to suit it, as well as collaborating with other experts and cross-referencing for accuracy and readability. It may take slightly longer than a free translation service, but where your business is concerned, a professional translation is worth the wait!


For a quality UK translation service you can trust, contact the team at Surrey Translation Bureau today – simply call our office on +44 (0)1252 733999 to speak to us directly, fill out the “How Can We Help?” pop-up on any of our website pages or email and we’ll get back to you with more detailed information as soon as we can.