Another quick question for people who speak and write in languages other than English: Do you get upset when people use translation software to reply to your posts if they are not native speakers/writers? Why or why not?

If y'all could boost this post so that I can get more responses from people who speak/write English and at least one other language, that would be great!

@trishalynn Not upset, no, I just don’t see the point. It’s different if they’re actively learning the language, but using machine translation….just speak English bruh.

@trishalynn I always reply in English because the other person can also use translation software and may well KNOW English. 💔❤️

Admittedly, I mostly do this when I have some evidence other person already posts in English (at least sometimes.) If you do use translation software, ideally you share both versions? So many possibilities for mistranslation otherwise?

@trishalynn if I do post in language (which is rare) I either want people to look it up or I can't say it otherwise. I don't know if automatic translation really helps here.
Note: I post and read overwhelmingly in English still

@trishalynn from English speakers? I'd rather not, unless I'm helping them consensually with language learning.

If someone doesn't speak a langauge I can read, then that could be okay, tho it's risky because machine translation is usually barely correct, and I'm not a fan of having to decode that mess

@trishalynn I'm confused at best, because translation software has its limits. I appreciate their effort to at least try to make themselves understandable. I would prefer to get an answer in a language the answerer understands, in the best case in one that we both understand.

Automated translations are often awful. It is much better to have a text that i know makes sense and try to machine-translate it myself than getting the result of a machine translation and having to guess what was meant.

@trishalynn Depending on the language pair, the machine translation can be unintelligible, so it's best to write in a language that you speak fairly well and leave any translation up to the reader, or post bilingually. I don't get upset, but I might simply not understand them.

@trishalynn hebrew machine translation is garbage with google translate and it instantly shows in even the smallest posts. if you are trying to internationalize and don't know the language even the slightest bit, maybe you don't know the translation software to use either, is my view.

before you make the very common mistake of using a sexual euphemism

@thufie @trishalynn Part of the problem is that average English speakers don’t have the linguistic knowledge to reduce likely ambiguity in their English sentences.
My experience is that machine translations from English to Arabic are better when I take care crafting my sentences. (I’m relying on my interlocutors’ responses of course because I don’t speak Arabic.)

@trishalynn In my opinion, I like it when posters pre-translate a post. That makes it easier to read when scrolling through my timeline. It's also nice if the original language is posted as well. That way I can use the FediLabs app to translate it just in case something is "lost in translation".

I'm hoping eventually we will have an app with the option to auto-translate. That way a user's timeline is always readable for the individual user.

@linuxlite58 @trishalynn The best etiquette is to reply in the language of the original post. If making that effort entails machine translation & that upsets someone they’d be unreasonable. I often take a risk & reply in English & usually get away with it but I’m not sure it gets the most responses, understanding that it’s not just the OP who will see your reply but other speakers of the OP’s lang.

@trishalynn @linuxlite58 Some people are rightfully annoyed that English dominates worldwide despite #Esparanto being a designed language better suited for international chatter.

@linuxlite58 @trishalynn And indeed including your untranslated text as well is useful not just for readers who speak your language but also so translation issues can be detected & overcome. Offline, this is how I write letters. I split the page into 2 cols and the official lang first and my original text to the right of it so the reader can overcome bad machine translations.

@koherecoWatchdog @trishalynn I'm just saying the app should translate in both directions. That way no one is left out. But yes, you are right. Until there is an automatic/AI type fix - posts should be made in the original posters language. Although, I often miss out on non-English posts because my app of choice (Husky) doesn't have translation. I'll need to switch to all browser-based Mastodon. Edge does a great job of on screen one-button translation.


I strongly disagree! Imho it is more acceptable if they reply in English. This way I'd know they have translated my post (so possible misunderstanding due to loss in translation) which shows the effort, but at least I can comprehend what they are saying without signal loss of bad translation. The etiquette is in being polite and showing genuine interest, not trying to force your way into some unknown language and culture!

@linuxlite58 @trishalynn

@Mehrad @trishalynn @linuxlite58 If a group of people are in France having a conversation in French & you jump in & start talking English that’s a bit rude. Maybe you understood the French or you had a speech translation device in order to be able to respond, but to then push a foreign language on all of them is a bit off.

@linuxlite58 @trishalynn @Mehrad You’ll generally get away with it b/c English is (unfairly) tolerated more than other languages but I wouldn’t call it good etiquette. But as linuxlite58 suggested, including both languages is ideal at least when it’s not too bulky.


Thanks for the explanation, but hard pass. If the conversation is public, it means everyone can join, but if they use a translator and then by accident creat an insulting or insensitive thing, then they cannot blame it back of translator. Language is not just a language, it carries a culture with it, and the culture cannot always be translated correctly [yet].

@trishalynn @linuxlite58

@Mehrad @linuxlite58 @trishalynn There have been moments when someone replies to my English post in another language, sometimes not even Latin chars. Not sure I can distinguish Thai from Arabic but certainly I don’t know Bulgarian from Russian, so I’d have to rely on language auto detection which I’ve seen go badly on long text (likely worse on micro blogs).

@trishalynn @linuxlite58 @Mehrad I’ve not always made the effort to bother translating, so that’s certainly a risk. Then the uncomfortable burden is on me to make an effort or ignore them.

@Mehrad @linuxlite58 @trishalynn I suppose most people are quite happy to use Google translate but I’m not happy to subject myself to the data collection & surveillance. So I use Argos-Translate but then I’m limited to those language pairs. It also means doing an 80mb download + installation per language pair per direction. So en→ru is an ~80mb download & install, and ru→en is another ~80mb download+install

@trishalynn @linuxlite58 @Mehrad The only free-world translation service is, AFAIK.

@trishalynn I have used my phone in English for a long time because most machine translations to German miss nuances, and apps with machine translations simply become enraging to use.

@trishalynn as such, I'd rather have them reply in their own language.

Depends on the software IMHO.

I prefer DeepL over Google Translate because it produces comprehensible translations. At least between German and English.

@trishalynn the best of both, write your post in your language and put the automated translation next, that way I can double check what you meant or ask someone who may know
people will get upset for anything if they are looking for a reason to get upset

@efi @trishalynn yeah, this is how I do it if necessary. Just because someone isn't writing in English doesn't mean they can't read it, especially if they're frequenting websites that are primarily in English.

@trishalynn It’s so easy to misunderstand people even when we speak the same language. I guess I prefer people to post in their own language so that I know they probably used a translator on my text (the thing they’re responding to). It just feels like I will understand the context for their comment better…

Not upset. Because they just want to participate in conversations and a translator made it possible.

@trishalynn I prefer if they use their native language, because I can paste the text into a translator myself

If I receive an already-machine-translated version I can't ask any human for help translating the original it in case the machine didn't do a good job.

Also, spam filters are more likely to flag machine translations, because of sender country<>lang mismatch and lazy spammers abusing machine translators.

@trishalynn I don't upset when people reply with translation from translator. But I confused how to reply when I'm not sure about the expected reply. When that happened I replied in multiple languages.

And now when I get interested in a post in other languages, and not sure how many languages the other speaks, I would post both the translation from translator and one language I speak. To reduce misunderstanding.

@trishalynn I do not even get the question. Why would one anyone be upset?

It may be good to mention it, in case the translation does not express what you wanted to say.

"My hovercraft is full of eels"

I wouldn't mind at all, but maybe I'd like the fact to be pointed out to me.

@trishalynn I don't get upset, I appreciate the effort. They may not know English either, or they may not know how well I know the language, so trying to speak or write to me in my native language is a reasonable default.

I will likely ask back if they'd prefer English (or any other language I speak), and if they do, we continue that, otherwise we stick to whatever is easiest for them.


It depends. If I write a post in language X, and they reply in language Y (where Y is not their native language), it feels extremely patronizing.

If I wrote a post in language X, and they use machine translation to reply in X too, or if they reply in their native language, then I don't mind.

Also, this is not limited to English.

@trishalynn when i post in chinese, i don't mind if folks reply in english after using machine translation to read my post, but i absolutely have no interest in someone replying to me in chinese with machine translation.

this is primarily because i have no trouble with english and generally prefer it; if i'm using chinese it's because there are feelings+cultural things that i can't communicate in english, and lossy machine translation isn't helpful to me.

@trishalynn I'm used to people being so low effort when replying in another language that them even trying makes me happy.

@trishalynn I don't think I'd get upset. I think I'm more inclined to believe that they just don't know the language well enough to respond on their own, and they also may want to keep the general "theme" of responding in the language going.

Though I'm sure I'll come across weird translations, in which case I'd ask them to respond in their own language so that I can cross-check across multiple translators.

Never happened to me before so far, so I'm not sure how I'd really feel. 🤷

@trishalynn As a Finnish native speaker...

If the choices are "no reply" and "machine translation reply", the latter is preferable.

"Machine translation" loses to "broken Finnish by human". Humans don't produce as much of an uncanny valley horror effect.

"Machine translation" also loses to "not Finnish".

@liw @trishalynn How about "reply in their language?" Better or worse than machine-translated Finnish?

@clacke @trishalynn If I can understand their reply, it's usually better than machine translation. If I can't, machine translation wins.

Communication if difficult and usually fails, except by accident.

@trishalynn The only other language I use is French. Translation software does a good job these days, hard to tell from a native speaker though less colloquial. Someone trying to address me in what they believe to be my preferred language I consider to be very thoughtful of them, beyond normal politeness.

@trishalynn I write in Dutch, and my experience is that software can't adequately translate my phuns intended. So I would advise against people translating them and then replying translated Dutch, for their own good. Besides, I speak English sufficiently.

@trishalynn good question ! I don't get upset because often the results are hilarious and I can not get upset at someone trying to communicate. Regarding Hebrew, Machine translation is indeed garbage

No i don't
I can"t possibly expect anybody to speak all the languages i do. At least they realize the world doesn't stop at their linguistic world and they are making an effort. It's already more than many.

@trishalynn Not upset, though it may annoy me, they can just write in what's comfortable for them, if I don't know the language *I* can use translation software!

@trishalynn From the other side, if people write in Dutch I always reply in Dutch; if they write in German I try to reply in German except if (a) I want to be very clear about something and my German falls short or (b) I know they're as bilingual as I am and I occasionally interact with them in English as well; for other languages, I reply in English and expect them to run it through translation software if needed.

@trishalynn Summarizing: machine translation is something to use at the receiver's end, not at the sender's.


I think it does not happen to me a lot. But I hope:
I don't get upset. Cause: what else could they do if they dont speak the language?

@Ricardus Thanks for the reminder. I've been working on grad school stuff and haven't been looking at Masto for a few days.

@trishalynn It seems bizarre to me to get upset at other people making an extra effort for you, unless that extra effort is very harmful. In the case of machine translations, there would be potential harm in getting a garbled one that is harder to understand than the original language but even then, all you need to do is ask the other to send the untranslated message.

@trishalynn (German natively; ESL)

Automated translation is OK *at best* and often terrible.

For example, some Microsoft support documents default to getting machine-translated. That’s a bad idea. The machine gets a lot of the context wrong, so the translated version often doesn’t make any sense.

@trishalynn I simply never happens, because the only time I would use non-English is if I'm sure the other person would understand it.

If they start a conversation with a message that is clearly automatic translation (and it really shows for Polish), I will just assume that it's spam.

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