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Etsy Starts Taking Translation Seriously [Updated]

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[ eCommerce]

Update: If comments from Etsy users are any indication, Etsy is perhaps not taking translation as seriously as it ought to be (See comments at end of article).

Etsy announced on Tuesday that it has added millions of local language listings in French, German, Italian, and Spanish-speaking countries. This is a major effort in the company’s international expansion.

While Etsy is already selling merchandise in 200 countries, and has had the site translated into English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Dutch, Portuguese, and Russian, until now, most of the listings still only appeared in English. You can see why this might have been a problem for users speaking these other languages trying to search for items to buy.

Etsy is rolling out automatic translation of all sellers’ listings into English, French, German, Spanish, and Italian, and is making them available in local language searches. Obviously this means a great deal more potential for selling items as well.

Etsy translation

“The result is a dramatic increase in the listings that appear in these local languages — in some cases, up from thousands to millions of listings,” says Etsy’s Brittany Williams. “This is a huge opportunity for increased sales to buyers around the world looking for the unique, one-of-a-kind items found on Etsy, who may have been stumped previously by English-only listings. Note: You need to support shipping to these markets in order for your listings to show up in local search results.”

Etsy says that if you’re already doing your own translations, you should continue to do so, but for those who aren’t, the company’s efforts should help a great deal.

The new translations also apply to listings on Google Shopping and its product listing ads (which Etsy sayshas been a huge source of traffic).

“Since we launched GPLA, they’ve generated over 73 million visits and have become an increasingly important source of site traffic, including many new visitors to Etsy,” says Williams. “We’ll begin with GPLA in French and German and will be launching them soon in Spanish and Italian. We hope this will drive additional holiday traffic to your shops, especially from new customers!”

Finally, the company is launching a tool for sellers that lets them translate on-site messages to and from buyers and a world map view and ship-to suggestions in Shop Stats.

Image: Etsy

Etsy Starts Taking Translation Seriously [Updated]
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  • http://www.justisspanish.com Aurora Humarán

    With all due respect, if the company is taking translation seriously, then professional translators should be hired.

    MT offers poor quality, which can result in funny translations (which is not funny when that is not your intention) and/or serious mistakes that can compromise the company.

    Kind regards,

    • http://www.german-translation.org.uk Olaf Knechten

      I totally agree with Aurora, I accidently came across this company’s “German” Website the other day. It was just gibberish. I was shocked. Needless to say, I refrained from buying anything. I wouldn’t trust a company that uses machine translation.

  • Jan Willem van Dormolen

    Following up on Aurora’s comments: take a look at the example picture. This is supposed to be English, translated from Dutch. Half of it is STILL Dutch, the other half is littered with mistakes.
    This is not taking translation seriously.
    This is not taking customers seriously.
    This is not taking business seriously.

  • http://www.lingocode.com Rose Newell

    The Dutch example is very amusing: “set 3 mini” has been successfully conveyed, but not perhaps the more important word, “notebooks” (or, cute small notebooks). This means customers will quickly find that “set 3 mini” of something, just not notebooks. Let’s just hope they had notebooks in mind, right?
    I have to agree with Jan and Aurora. This is not taking translation seriously. That would be using professional translators, and that looks very different. It is comprehensible. It is legible. It is effective. And you know what else? It sells.

  • http://www.polaron.com.au Eva

    It’s like this, my friends: Etsy is NOT taking translation seriously. Etsy thinks that whilst the English listings need to be written well so that they sell their sellers’ items (Sales 101) no such care needs to be taken with languages other than English. The extra traffic? Probably all the ethnics bemused or laughing their heads off at the poor translations.

  • Ana

    Mr. Crum really does need to revise the title: Etsy NOT Taking Translation Seriously and NOT thinking about customers at all.

    Would you like to buy some “sleeve juice”? That doesn’t make any sense, right? I won’t even explain it but that’s the sort of translation (i.e. useless) you get when you use Google Translate or other non-human translators. In fact, you can go ahead and google that to see for yourself ;)

  • http://www.loekalization.com Loek van Kooten

    Professional English-Dutch translator here with 18 years of experience. The Dutch in the screenshot is littered with mistakes: very basic mistakes in both grammar and spelling. That’s not Dutch, that’s a joke. I hope their products are better. Thing is, most clients associate the quality of someone’s product with the quality of the language promoting it. The few cents they’re saving on “translation” will come back like a boomerang when they find out they could have sold a lot more had they taken the effort to hire professionals.

  • http://www.iapti.org IAPTI

    The official stance of the International Association of Professional Translators and Interpreters, which is aware of Etsy’s attempt, is the same as that expressed by translators and Etsy users in these comments, i.e. using MpT (machine pseudo-translation) is a disservice to the users and to the company itself, as the end result of MpT tends to be not only inaccurate but often laughable and can damage the company’s image -hence its sales- and affect the user’s trust in the company.

  • http://www.iapti.org IAPTI

    The official stance of the International Association of Professional Translators and Interpreters, which is aware of Etsy’s attempt, is the same as that expressed by translators and Etsy users in these comments, i.e. using MpT (machine pseudo-translation) is a disservice to the users and to the company itself, as the end result of MpT tends to be not only inaccurate but often laughable and can damage the company’s image -hence its sales- and affect the user’s trust in the company.

  • Siilvia Giancola

    I totally agree with all of you. Etsy should give more serious consideration to languages other than English, since such “goofy” translations keeps customers away instead of making them feel closer to producers ans sellers.

  • http://www.culturesconnection.com Edouard Garret

    La traduction automatique n’est pas une solution qualitative, loin de là. Faire comprendre au client que l’utilisateur final ne va pas s’y retrouver est le plus difficile. Mais peut-être faut-il rappeler que les moteurs de recherche tendent de plus en plus à “s’humaniser” et donc à ce que les résultats de recherche correspondent à ce qu’un humain, pas une machine (CQFD), est capable de trouver et comprendre.

  • http://nativeturkishtranslator.com Recep

    Difficult to imagine what such companies have in mind when spewing out machine gibberish texts… As my colleagues point out, no sane customer is going to shop at a site full of machine-translated nonsense…

  • Grace Vega

    Let’s face it, Folks. Much of the leadership in many otherwise savvy companies these days know absolutely nothing about the complexities of translation. For some reason I’ve never quite understood, translation and interpreting are seen as “easy” jobs where someone is “just writing/speaking another language”. If I had a dime for every time over the last 20 years that someone said to me “Wow, you get paid that much (“that much” never actually being what the work was really worth) just for talking in another language?” I’d be a very rich woman today. And I’m talking about leaders in medicine, technology, industry. I don’t know if we professionals are so good that we make interpreting and translating seem too easy or what. In many cases, when trying to explain the complexities and the years of study and experience it takes to do really accurate interpreting and translation, many of these leaders just won’t listen until you can prove that their pocketbooks have been directly affected by their lack of understanding and unwillingness to use upfront resources to produce good translations or interpreting. Somebody with a thick skin and savvy of their own,as well as access to data and real cases of errors and their effects, must get to these leaders with the strong business case for doing this the right way.

  • Susana G Tuya

    I agree with all your comments but we all share the same background and know what the results are going to be. Let´s wait a few months and see what happens. Sales up? Sales down? Happy sellers? Unhappy sellers? Make your bets… However, I had a look at some items and they only ship to USA, so who cares…It seems they are only interested in having more visitors, that´s it.

  • Janet

    Yes, very true.. translation is a very critical thing, it looks best if done by expert or by the native person. Translation companies must adhere to certain level of quality standards. Now I understand the reason why many companies like <a href="https://www.ulatus.com">ulatus</a> are hiring native translators so that the actual meaning of the sentence is not lost during translation.

    Thanks.

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