Cork County Council defends use of Google Translate

By Concubhar Ó Liatháin

Cork County Council has defended the use of Google Translate to provide an Irish language version of its website despite such a practice being branded “unacceptable” by the Coimisinéir Teanga/Language Commissioner.

The council was responding to a query on the use of Google Translate on the website despite this resulting in ‘pidgin’ Irish being used. Visitors to the council website can also access versions in Italian, French, German, and Polish.

In the section welcoming visitors to Cork, the Irish language version is littered with words in English and the sentences are poorly structured.

For example: “Is Corcaigh áit a líonadh le eachtraí de gach cineál; amach duit féin an taithí captivating go leor go fanacht sa chathair bríomhar agus cosmopolitan an chontae, na tírdhreacha fiáin agus garbh de Iarthar Chorcaí, agus na stráicí endless gainimh agus carraig den chósta is faide in Éirinn.”

According to a council spokesman, Google Translate was used because of the ‘sheer volume’ of text on the website.

He said: “Cork County Council has investigated the option of translating individual pages as resources allowed while using Google Translate for the other pages but the software did not allow two options to run concurrently.

The spokesman claimed the Council is “not in breach of the regulations under the commitments made in its language scheme”.

The scheme agreed by Cork County Council with the Department of the Gaeltacht in 2007 committed the council to having a bilingual website by 2008 and that the Irish version would be maintained “in the same manner” as the English version.

The use of Google Translate was branded as “unacceptable” by An Choimisnéir Teanga’s office. 

In a later statement, the council spokesman said: “The current translation is an interim solution as the council expects that there will be a significant change to our organisational structure after the implementation of the new boundary following next year’s local elections. At that point, Cork County Council intends to provide translation to a higher standard.”

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