In the famous folk tale Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, two words, Open Sesame, open the doors to a secret cave hollowed by the hand of man and full of rich bales of merchandise, including silk, gold and silver. Last week, the homonymous B2B giant opened its doors through one of the most anticipated IPOs of the year; however, to the surprise of its international users, the cave of wonders was full of trinkets.
The words Sesam Öffne Dich! granted German users access to the fascinating world of “hair from virgins”, “wearable audios with the loud noise”, cocktail dresses for “thick women”, and even “medical” products such as the essential “Christmas gift needs bong bongs and glass pipe”, which will last you from 800 to 1,000 puffs or “brothels”.
Likewise, the words Ábrete sésamo introduced Spanish-speaking users to the marvels of “shit lingerie”, “dog cage and execute”, “glasses for butterfly child”, and even “monkey rider suits” for riding your “motorcycle moto of the filth”. Their “French” is not better, either.
Jokes aside, these are very sad times for our industry.
Translation is often debated as being a commodity. We are now a very laughable one. Are we letting companies that outsource to untrained translators, cheap labor or use bad machine translation engines, take over the world? If that’s the case, the future looks bleak. Imagine years of misspelled nightmares where, to quote Alibaba, “virgins with wooden paste are wearing plumbing through your neck dresses.”
If a company valued at US$ 215 billion cannot be bothered to care about proper web localization and the quality of its multilingual content, where does that leave our profession? Is it time for a real shake-up in our industry? Can we seriously accept - and not condemn - such horrible cut-throat practices that shame our profession?
Who is the real culprit behind this? The debate is open.
Tell us what you think,
The BeatBabel Vigilante