Exporting the Groundsmanship and Greenkeeping message

It’s probably reasonable to say that UK Groundsmanship and Greenkeeping is World class and renown for its superb lawns and sports turf surfaces. Well, maybe that’s an understatement, as we clearly lead the way in quality surface production!

Sharing our knowledge with people of other languages and cultures is an area we can certainly improve on: The primary barrier that most people would accept is that we have relatively poor non-English language communication skills.

With the range of technologies now available to us, is the traditional response of ‘Why can’t other people learn English?‘ still an acceptable reason (this isn’t implying that it was acceptable in the past anyway)?

Certainly not, and with the political situation as it is I think this is an ideal time to show our continental friends that many of us do have a desire to maintain good relations, ‘bonhomie’, with them. I’m just taking a really quick look at web translation services to see how easy and effective they might be.

As you will notice I’ve installed the WordPress plugin of  Google Language Translator to my blog and it was seamless to install and set up. I decided for now to just have the major languages of French, German, Italian and Spanish available, but this can easily be amended. This can be used to instantaneously translate the page into the chosen language.

Google Language Translator

Google Language Translator

Here’s 3 examples of what’s available

  • Google Translate can do web sites (page at a time), text or documents (limited to 5000 characters), as well as giving the ability to hear what has been translated.
  • Bing Microsoft Translate is similar to Google Translate, including spoken translations.
  • Online Translator provide word translation by PROMT, not a spoken version, and is useful to contrast with Google and Bing translations.

I’ve extracted some text from a blog a couple of months ago to compare the translations offered in French:

“Mowing: The most visual and frequent activity on most or all natural sports turf surfaces. The rule of thumb is to remove no more than 33%-40% of vegetation per cut, otherwise the grass is ‘shocked’ and food reserves (which are mainly stored in the roots) are depleted to compensate for the stress caused by incorrect mowing practices. The depleted roots will take time to recover.”

Google Translate provides us with: “Fauchage: Activité la plus visuelle et la plus fréquente sur la plupart des surfaces de gazon naturel. La règle de base est de ne pas prélever plus de 33% à 40% de la végétation par coupe, sinon l’herbe est «choquée» et les réserves alimentaires (principalement stockées dans les racines) sont épuisées pour compenser le stress causé par une fauche incorrecte. les pratiques. Les racines épuisées prendront du temps à récupérer.”

Bing Microsoft Translate: ‘Fauchage: l’activité la plus visuelle et fréquente sur la plupart ou toutes les surfaces de gazon de sports normaux. La règle de base est d’enlever pas plus de 33%-40% de la végétation par coupe, sinon l’herbe est «choqué» et les réserves alimentaires (qui sont principalement stockés dans les racines) sont épuisés pour compenser le stress causé par des pratiques de tonte incorrectes. Les racines appauvries prendront du temps pour récupérer.’

Online Translator PROMT: Fauchage : L’activité la plus visuelle et fréquente sur plupart ou toutes les surfaces de gazon sportives naturelles. La règle du pouce doit enlever pas plus que 33 %-40 % de végétation par réduction, autrement l’herbe est ‘choquée’ et les réserves de nourriture (qui sont principalement conservés dans les racines) sont réduits pour compenser pour la tension provoquée par les pratiques de fauchage incorrectes. Les racines réduites prendront du temps pour se rétablir.

A lot of similarities, but also some clear differences, so full comprehension of what is being translated may not be achieved, however, more than a basic gist is being achieved and this is, I would suggest, more than adequate to enable a reasonable transfer of knowledge to be achieved to speakers of other languages.

So whilst we can accept there are limitations from web translation services, the benefits far outweigh the disadvantages. What we mustn’t forget is that over time these translation services will become even more fluent in comprehension.

If you have access to a virtual assistant such as Amazon Alexa, then this technology will also readily provide word or word string translations, again with varying accuracy. Even mobile instant translation software also offers opportunities to help us in spreading our knowledge further afield.

Conclusion: The technology is available to more readily share good Groundsmanship practices and knowledge, it looks like it’s now a matter of having the desire to embed it into online delivery platforms. 

Chris Gray, 10th August 2018