Council used Google to translate website into Irish

It appears Cork County Council will have to brush up on their cúpla focal after being called out for using Google Translate on its official website.

An investigation by the State’s official languages commissioner has criticised the council for “insulting” Irish speakers by providing substandard translations.

Coimisinéir Teanga Rónán Ó Domhnaill found the council guilty of using the machine translation system to produce the Irish- language version of static content on its website.

Mr Ó Domhnaill said Google’s online tool can often produce Irish translations that are “ineffective and impossible to understand” and the meaning of the original text can be completely changed.

“The text in Irish which is produced by a machine translation is not comparable with the standard of the original English text,” Mr Ó Domhnaill said in his 2018 annual report, due to be published today.

In fact it could be insulting to some language communities to be expected to accept translations of poor standard, as was to be seen on the council’s website.

Responding, the council told the commissioner that the translation was a temporary measure and it felt that “neither the time nor the resources were available within the county council to translate the content, and that the cost involved in sending the content to a private company for translation would be excessive”.

The report states: “It was not known at that time what change or changes would be imposed on Cork County Council and Cork City Council, including the possibility of an amalgamation of the two councils.

“The council was loath, therefore, to ‘expend large sums of money’ to a private company to translate pages of the website when it was not known how long they would be in effect before they would have to be changed from scratch once more.”

The commissioner is also highly critical of RTÉ in his annual report, after he found that less than 1% of shows are classified as Irish- languages programmes which, he said, is “seriously deficient” and in breach of the language provisions of the Broadcasting Act 2009.

Mr Ó Domhnaill said: The results of the investigation reveal that only 0.7% of programmes broadcast on RTÉ television are classified as Irish-language programmes.

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