Facebook In Polish – Renovated By Cowboys

For a number of months every time I log into Facebook (or at least it seemed that way) Facebook would add a call for help with translation into my news feed. I think most of my readers are aware that I live in Poland, though those details are not directly available to Facebook, unless they look at my phone number.

Thus they are most likely targeting me with the message using some kind of IP delivery – looking at which country or region my IP address originates in, and as I use a Polish ISP, they sometimes give me information in Polish.

Facebook in Polish

After you switch display language, it looks a little like this
Facebook Interface In Polish

Facebook was translated using crowd sourcing – to be honest I am not sure it is the best option – it is certainly the cheap option, and gives users some additional sense of ownership which can encourage brand loyalty, but I am not convinced it is the best option.

I am not a native Pole, in fact my linguistic skills are a source of constant frustration for my Polish wife and her family.

Whilst Facebook clearly state the translations are for information purposes only, I shouldn’t be able to pick up glaring translation flaws in a matter of minutes, within headlines… just scanning pages.
Note:- whilst in the games industry one of the roles I performed was coordinating the localization of over 100 SKUs from English to Polish, and occasionally translation Polish > English but that was often more like rewriting the manuals

Here is an example from the terms and conditions

Definitions and Constructions

Hmm, definitions and constructions… referring to grammatical definitions and constructions

Facebook Constructions = Renovations

Unfortunately “Remonty” in Polish means “Renovation” and unlike other similar words, is never used for anything to do with grammar.

The following alternatives would be suitable.

Definicje i Konstrukcje
Definicje i Budowa (zdań)

Google Translate Does It Better

Plugging the same phrase into Google Translate, which recently added support for Polish gives much better results than were achieved using crowd sourcing.

Example Translation From Google Translate

Google Translate isn’t perfect by any means, it needs to expand the dictionary considerably, and probably include specific thematic dictionaries, but recently I have used it to translate from Polish to English for friends and family with reasonable success.

I expect such blunders from professionals translating from their native language into a foreign language, but from such a huge company using crowd sourcing on a large scale, with professional management, I expected much better.

There are other bugs, along with a sense that they didn’t include a solution to take into consideration gender.

Facebook isn’t an open source project with limited resources.

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  1. says

    Thanks for the translation insights…It’s very interesting how the Web and social media sites are dealing with a global audience. Perhaps esparanto is in the future of global web communicators…

  2. says

    I think that they can do better. They need to hire a professional team of translators/editors to review the work to make sure that it is correct. Some of the mistakes could be extremely embarrassing.

  3. says

    I said this was a bad idea when I first found out about it ( http://www.taxidrivermarketing.com/?p=19 ).

    Like you say, it can create strong brand loyalty, but in my opinion this mainly works for smaller communities. When a company has just received a pot of gold from Microsoft it just seems like they are being cheap to ask the members to translate.

    With all the new languages rolled out they obviously found the people to do it for them, but if they let mistakes slip through like the ones you mention they’ve been even cheaper then I thought.

    And I know about cheap, I’m Dutch!

  4. Sleep Aid says

    Yeah, I think they can do better too. You would think for what the company is worth they could hire someone to do the translations.

  5. says

    “Facebook isn’t an open source project with limited resources”

    This phrase said everything! Many bugs are fixed by users when the system is an open source!

  6. says

    There’s not much worse then off-beat translations…to say nothing of completely wrong as in the case you pointed out.

    Claudine hit the point with possible massive embarrassment, or worse.

  7. says

    Sorry Andy I must have had forgotten to close my link above. I meant only to link to my site about Polish language not to spam by making my whole comment a link. Your blog is high quality and did not mean to do that. PS you should blog more about your experience living in Poland an with the Polish language. I think there are many ex pats all over the world who have an interest in the internet experience connected with languages other than English.

  8. says

    I think computers and the internet has become overefficient — I experience the same annoyance when my microsoft word automatically spells out a word for me — when I was trying to write something entirely different. Facebook should wait for an opt-in from the user, so that translations would be wanted and accepted.

    Google Advertising Ireland .

  9. jobie12345678 says

    The future will either be really bad with the technology or really good. I see it as good. Global peace will be through global community. This is just another step in that direction :)