Ways to avoid gender problems with business translation

One of the most important aspects and yet the simplest of tasks when working on a business translation is to ensure that any gender specified in the translation is correct. There can be nothing more insulting in some cultures in getting the title and gender wrong and it can be extremely difficult working with foreign names.

One way to avoid gender problems is not to use machine translation (MT) as this translation platform doesn’t understand gender and there is a statistical bias towards male nouns and verbs in translation. The examples of this can be seen in stereotypes in that professor, doctor, engineer and journalist are translated into male form whereas nurse and teacher into female form. Some of the reasons for this is that MT looks at; “ the most frequent translation of word combinations”; “only uses individual sentences for context and not neighbouring sentences”; “looks up past translations which historically have been the male form”, etc.  A peer-review case study published in 2013 by Schiebinger further illustrates where MT platforms really trips up!

MT has its place and we would only recommend this for understanding the gist of a translation however based on the research above do you actually know who you are communicating with!