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  • Writer's pictureJessica Rees Translations

Thinking of using translation websites to translate your wine texts? Here’s why it's not recommended

Updated: Sep 12, 2022

Machine translation websites such as Google Translate and DeepL can be useful if you want to understand a text that has been written in another language. The translation may not be perfect, but you can get the gist of the text. That being said, it is recommended that you don’t use these sites to translate your website, social media posts, and printed marketing texts.

Machine translation websites don’t always understand the context of the text. So, when a word in one language has multiple meanings, they can choose the wrong translation. This can cause problems. People may not understand your message, the translation may contain words with negative connotations or worse, words that cause offence.

Machine translation websites and wine vocabulary

What is more, these machine translation websites don’t know every single technical term that exists in the world. So, when you use terms relating to oenology and viticulture in your texts, these websites translate the words without having technical expertise. This is why they can translate your texts incorrectly.

For example, the French word “robe” is often used in wine texts. This word can be translated into English in several different ways, but in the context of wine and winemaking, it means the colour of the wine. To illustrate this point, I did some experiments using machine translation. Quite often, they translate “robe” into English as “dress”, one of the other English translations for this word. But “dress” isn’t used in English to describe the colour of a wine, you simply say “colour”.

French text - sa robe est dorée. English translation - her dress is golden.
An example of Google Translate translating teh French word “robe”

There are also other ways you can translate the word “robe” when it appears in a text about wine. For example, if a French sentence describing a Chardonnay from Chablis is “Sa robe est dorée et le nez frais révèle les notes de pomme verte et d’agrumes.” (which means “Its colour is golden, and the fresh nose reveals notes of green apple and citrus fruits.”), you can translate it as “This golden Chardonnay's fresh nose reveals notes of green apple and citrus fruits.”.

Another word that causes problems

Another French word that you have to watch out for when using machine translation websites is “amateur”. It has the exact same spelling as the English word “amateur”, but the French word has more than one meaning. In French, “amateur” can mean “someone who does an activity as a hobby and not as a professional”, just as it does in English, but it can also mean “someone who loves something”.

Therefore, when the French word “amateur” is used in the sense of the second meaning, we can translate it as “lover”, “fan” or “enthusiast”.

Using the example of a Chardonnay from Chablis again, if a French sentence is “Les amateurs pourront trouver une touche de silex dans ce joli chardonnay.” (which means “Enthusiasts will be able to find a touch of flint in this beautiful Chardonnay.”), it could be translated as “Chablis lovers will be able to detect hints of flint in this beautiful Chardonnay.”.

You have to be careful when translating the French word “amateur” as it doesn’t always have the same meaning as the word does in English. To translate “amateur de vin” into English, you can write “wine lover”.
Watch out when translating the French word "amateur".

Would you want errors in your marketing texts?

This goes to show that you have to be careful when using machine translation.

Without the help of a human translator, your wine texts might not make sense. It is possible that your English-speaking customers will not understand what you are trying to say. As a result of this, they might not buy your products or visit your vineyard.

If you are thinking about publishing blogs, social media posts or brochures in English, please don’t hesitate to contact me here. We can discuss your translation needs and I can answer any questions you may have.

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