Machine translated messages

I recently received a message from a postcrosser written in Czech. The person doesn’t speak Czech so it was Google translated and it very much showed. We both speak English, it could have been written in English.

How do you feel about getting machine translated messages in your language? Is there a difference if you do or don’t share a common language?

Machine translations into Czech are often very awkward and just weird overall. I often have to translate the sentences word by word to English to make them make sense. I feel like when we both know a common language, it is just making it inconvenient to both of us. Actually, if the person didn’t know English, I would still prefer a machine translation into English instead of Czech because I feel it gives much better results.

And one more question - would you tell the person who sent the machine translation? I don’t want to sound rude because they probably made an effort to be nice but I also think it would be a valuable feedback… What is your opinion?


I have the same opinion and find it somewhat strange to use translating programs if there is any common language.

A dear friend of mine always writes in the language of the recipient though (using translating apps) :woman_shrugging:t2:

People are all different. If the translation was somewhat off or even not understandable at all, I would mention it and maybe point out that English is the best starting point when using translation apps (as it is used as the reference language for most… so e.g. when I write my message in German and let it translate to Czech, it will internally first be translated to English and then Czech. Making mistakes more likely)


I personally only machine translate if we can call it that in Japanese since I can speak it but don’t know all kanji (only hiragana and karakana and some kanji character) yet so I only want to write it more correctly not to look like a 1-2 grade kid also like this I can fit more onto the card . Regarding other languages that I don’t speak I don’t write a message since I won’t be sure if it will be correct so I write in our common language

The very first card I ever received via Postcrossin must have been translated from Russian into English badly, for the text hardly made sense. That was quite weird. But that was ten years ago.
I cannot remember of a card being translated into German. Maybe that worked so well.
But if I received cards with bad German translation, I would add a sentence in my profile, tha senders should rather write in English instead of having the text translated into German because of tje bad quality of the computer translations. Is that an option for you?
I think I would not mention that in the hurray message, for it could be seen as offensive and hurtful.


I hear you and I agree with you that Google doesn’t always make the right translations. But maybe that person was trying to be nice by writing in your language??
You could ask him/her and she/he might learn from it too if you tell them the translation didn’t make much sense.

Personally I would write in English (or Dutch) and maybe only say “Kind Regards” in the person’s language by using Google Translation.

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That hasn’t been an issue for me so far. My first language is English, so I haven’t had to translate into English for Postcrossing.

However, in the past I’ve been in situations where I had to communicate in writing in a language I don’t know well, such as Japanese. My approach is to use Google Translate, sending the translation back and forth several times until I’m sure there are no incorrect meanings being conveyed or introduced. When that is the case, I just look for a new way to phrase my meaning in the original English. Sooner or later I usually find something that is Google Translate-proof :laughing:

I received several postcards written in Ukrainian with the help of a translator. It was very sweet and pleasant. I live in Germany and am just learning German, my postcards to Germans are probably clumsily written. I can’t boast about my English either. It’s a pity if I offend people with my mistakes.


Interesting theme. I will show you two examples of my translations from Russian to English.
Here is the first, completely automatic:


This is an interesting topic. Since I don’t know English well, I use an automatic translator. But I always check and correct the translation afterwards. I hope my posts don’t sound too mechanical.

And the second, which I corrected after translator


Interesting topic. My English is not very good, so I use an automatic translator for help. But I always check and correct the translation afterwards. I hope my posts don’t look too automatic.

Which is better?

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I would think it was kind of cute if they were trying to make that much of an effort :sweat_smile:


Depends what you’re after. The first one, to me, sounds more like what you would write for something more formal, while the second is perhaps closer to spoken language, which works fine on a forum.

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Both are good.

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As a native English speaker, I can’t choose which is better. They both sound natural and fluent.

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I like common language used.

If someone studies Finland or knows it, it’s ok and understandable of course. But just translating, not knowing at all what the message is, I don’t know what to do or say. It’s endearing that they show the interest, so I feel I can’t say anything. And if/when I don’t say anything, it maybe feels like it’s good, and if someone else says, they will look bad, because “no one else said anything”.

I wouldn’t use it if I didn’t know the language at all, because I could not check it.
I have written a message in German, which I don’t know, but I felt safer to write it, and not to use a translator :slightly_smiling_face: although I could try to use translator there, but I still would not know if it’s wrong or not really. Mainly I would not use a translator, because it’s hard to look at the screen and the card alternating.

There was a time when I got many profiles and messages in German. They seemed to think everyone uses translator, and I tired to advice to put a translated text to the profile, I don’t remember what it was, and why the person wrote me a message in Estonian, and then “how did I do, see, it’s not that hard” :thinking: I don’t know if their idea was to show you can choose a random language there, or did they mistake all Finns know Estonian, or maybe in German translator the Estonian and Finnish are next to each other and they used wrong language…
but to me it only showed, if you don’t know a language, you also don’t know if you use a wrong language.

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Both are good, I personally think the final line of the first is clearer.

I really like the slight variations that show me someone isn’t speaking (writing) in their first language, I find it quite charming.

I am grateful to every Postcrosser who makes the effort to write to me in English, and on the rare occasion I receive a card not written in English I enjoy trying to translate it, and try to write my hurray message in both English & their language. How successful I am I do not know! x

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I need machine translating even for English, because my English is limited. But it is good enough to see and correct the basic mistakes in translating (for example, the word “map”, where “card” is needed). In general, the machine translation into English is relatively good, into Latvian there is a much greater chance of surprises. I prefer the text written in English, because the Latvian machine translation can be completely incomprehensible. But I sometimes use machine translation in German and I hope it is without much nonsense. I studied German at school, but it wasn’t enough to write halfway fluently.

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I have only once used an online translator for an official card. This woman had on her profile that she doesn’t know any other language than Russian and her relatives will translate the message. I thought it might be nice for her to receive a card she doesn’t need someone else for. But since I do not speak any Russian, I tried to keep sentences simple.
I don’t think I often receive cards translated by a computer, or I don’t notice. If someone writes in German and there are mistakes, I never think about who made them (human or machine), but I guess it’s not as obvious as in other languages with German. Yet I’d always prefer a text in a common language over machine translations.

I often write postcards in languages in which I know I’ll make a lot of mistakes, like French or Spanish (I’m sorry my use of tenses in both is rather random) and I sometimes ask a translation tool for a second opinion. Like you’d ask a classmate, not a teacher. If it’s plausible enough and I think it’s better than my solution, I might take it.
I sometimes consult a tool when I write in Finnish or receive a card in Finnish, to confirm some vocabulary, but I prefer my dictionary if it is at hand. Yet sometimes it’s helpful to sort the cases. But I write my messages based on my own poor language skills.
My motto is: Language is with the bold.
(Never fear to use a language only because you might make a mistake.)
Yet maybe translation tools follow the same motto. :thinking:


Funnily, I received a Czech hurray message, despite writing my postcard in English :person_shrugging:

I don’t think you offend anyone. I think most people are happy that someone tries writing in their language (me included).
The case I was talking about is different. It is when both people A and B speak English. And A writes to B in a language A doesn’t know at all. The whole message is translated by Google or similar application. This causes the clarity of the communication to be worse than if A wrote in English. It still doesn’t offend me by the way. It is just really confusing.

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:smiley: maybe!

I too don’t fear using a language. I think when I use English, the one who know better, needs to understand more/be more understanding. When you know a language well, you understand not so good language too.

But to write totally strange language, when there is common language, I prefer to use the common language.

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I think these people who use mashines only try to be polite and would like to do the recipiant a favour. So if a translation into your language makes no sence I would probably write something like: I appreciate the effot. Unfortunately translaters often make mistakes when translating into this language which makes it hard to reand and to understand.
So next time this perdon writes to Czechia they know.

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