Doesn’t Matter As Long As It’s Cheap

Under the category of “Doesn’t Matter As Long As It’s Cheap” comes a detective story.

In early summer, 2008, the news began to circulate among Italian-to-English translators that an individual calling himself Massimiliano Liberti had placed the following advertisement, using a hotmail address (massiliberti@hotmail.it), on several Italian online bulletin board services:

DEGREE IN LANGUAGES. TRANSLATIONS INTO ANY SPOKEN LANGUAGE.

SEND TEXT VIA EMAIL AND IT WILL BE TRANSLATED IN LESS THAN 24 HOURS

€5 PER PAGE

Offers for cut-rate translation services are common, but the extravagant claims of the announcement (“any spoken language”) suggested that Massimiliano was using free translation programs and charging customers for the service—in other words, that he was committing fraud. I decided to test his service. I contacted Massimiliano regarding the translation of a series of short stories from Italian into English. In addition, I asked him to send me a brief sample translation so I could judge his work.

He responded with an offer to reduce his fee to €3 per page and promised a 3-5 day turnaround for 100 pages. In addition, he sent the “translation” that appears in the second graf below. If you compare the texts, it becomes obvious that Massimiliano’s “work” consisted of putting the text through a translation program and then cutting-and-pasting the results.

I wrote once more, asking Massimiliano to explain the errors in his translation and to confirm that he was not simply trying to trick clients into paying him for translations when he was actually using free online programs. He never responded. (If he’s the same adolescent, would-be playboy with too much free time on his hands whose profile is here—http://massiliberti.spaces.live.com/—that comes as no surprise!)


Original Italian text sent to Massimo:
L’avvocato Patty McCarthy si lasciò scivolare cupamente su una delle accoglienti poltrone del suo club, al primo piano di una vecchia palazzina le cui ampie finestre guardavano sullo zoo municipale di Brooklyn. Ordinò un mint julep con molto ghiaccio e lo bevve d’un fiato fissando un rinoceronte lontano, fra il verde del parco. Era stufa e depressa, e si sentiva prossima a un’acuta crisi di sconforto. Ordinò un secondo whisky e cercò di non pensare alla mattinata appena trascorsa. Ma inutil mente: non riusciva a togliersi dalla testa quella sciagurata di Valerie Corsi che si era rappacificata con suo marito davanti al giudice, dopo che questi (il marito, non il giudice) le aveva rotto un braccio. Il sinistro, questa volta. Sorridendo sotto il trucco pesante che nascondeva le ecchimosi, la disgraziata era tornata al tetto coniugale, dove l’aspettavano quattro figlioletti.

“Translation” returned by Massimo:
The lawyer Patty McCarthy let slip cupamente on one of the comfortable armchairs of his club, on the first floor of an old building whose windows looked large on the municipal zoo in Brooklyn. Ordinò a mint julep with much ice and drank a breath of setting a rhinoceros far, between the green of the park. He was depressed and stove, and was close to an acute crisis of discouragement. Ordinò a second whisky and cer cò not think of the morning just passed. But inutil mind: he could not remove the head of the wretched Valerie Corsi who had rappacificata with her husband front to judge, after these (the husband, not the judge) had a broken arm. The left, this time. Smiling under the heavy makeup that hid the bruising, disgraziata had returned to conjugal roof, where the expected four children

Control – same text passed through Google Translate:
The lawyer Patty McCarthy cupamente he allowed himself to slip on one of cosy armchairs of his club, the first floor of an old building whose large windows looked on municipal zoo in Brooklyn. Ordered a mint julep with much ice and drank a breath of setting a rhinoceros far, among the green of the park. It was the stove and depressed, and felt close to an acute crisis of discouragement. Ordered a second whisky and cer cò not think of the morning just passed. But inutil mind: could not take off from the head of the sciagurata Valerie Corsi who was with her husband rappacificata front to judge, after they (the husband, not the judge) had a broken arm. The left, this time. Sorridendo under the heavy makeup that hid the bruising, the unfortunate session was married to the roof, where the expected four figlioletti.

Control – same text passed through Babel Fish:
L’ lawyer Patty McCarthy let to slip darkly on one of the pleasant seats of its club, to the first one slowly of an old mansion whose wide windows watched on the zoo municipal of Brooklyn. He ordered a mint julep with much ice he drank and it d’ a breath fixing a rinoceronte far away, between the green of the park. Era stews and depressed, and it was felt next to un’ acute crisis of sconforto. It ordered a second whisky and cer cò not to think next to the passed morning as soon as. But inutil mente: it did not succeed to remove from the head that sciagurata one of Valerie Corsi that had been rappacificata with its husband front to the judge, after that these (the husband, the judge) did not have broken an arm to them. The left, this time. Sorridendo under the heavy trick that hid bruises, the unfortunate era returned to the roof conjugates them, where l’ they waited for four little daughters.

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