Tucson AZ Home Loan Info


Working With Foreign Buyers? Beware Your Use of Free Translation Software.

Check out the beautiful floor: Mike in Tucson, AZ mortgage lenderAre you working with foreign buyers? 

Let's say that English is difficult for them, so you try to compensate by using one of the many free translation services on the internet.

That free software translation service may not be saying what you intend to communicate. 

Of course, you don't speak your buyer's language, so you have no idea what the actual translation conveys to your buyer, and that miscommunication might leave you looking incompetent, or worse. 

A Reverse Example of Poor Translation

Let's reverse the situation, and pretend that you are the buyer, and that you're looking at a home on the internet in Holland.  The real estate agent's first language is Dutch (Nederlands) and yours is English.

You see this beautiful room on the listing website, with the sun streaming in, and that lovely plank floor. 

A visitor to the website has commented "Zeit er smaakvol uit bei jou thuis."  You email the agent, asking what this means.  The agent, who knows no English, copies the text into the SDL site, clicks the "Translate" button, and sends you this answer:

Well, there you go!  Sees there pleasing from with you home!  The agent has no idea that this is gibberish, and from your puzzled point of view, you aren't much better off than you were before you asked the question.

The meaning is unclear, and you are left to try to wrest clarity from confusion.  It's not easy done, as my Oklahoma ranch friend used to say.

Clicking that "Listen" button won't help either, even if you turn up the volume real loud.  What will help somewhat is clicking the Google Translation button there on the right hand side.  While SDL is in the business of selling human translation by the word at seven cents each, Google is in the business of telling you what you want to know.  Is it any wonder that Google does a better (but still not perfect) job of it?

The problem is that all languages use idiom, where the actual words used have a different meaning in context than what you see on the page or hear when said out loud.  Looks tasty out in your home?  Probably not.  Looks pleasing... is closer to the meaning.

Aren't you glad you stopped by my blog?  Tot ziens!


photo courtesy my facebook friend Diana Apie, who speaks Engels better than I do Nederlands


I'm Mike in Tucson, your preferred Tucson Arizona Mortgage Lender.

NMLS #223495

SUNSTREET MORTGAGE llc ~ Correspondent Mortgage Bank
Offices (AZ) Mesa, Tucson, Sierra Vista, and Nogales.

Comment balloon 13 commentsMike Jones • March 25 2011 08:51PM


Mike: What a great Idea?.... We can use this with all our foreign buyers. I have to make sure to BOOKMARK this one. THANKS SO MUCH FOR SHARING.

Posted by Donna Paul, Long Island Home Specialist,All About Real Estate (Keller Williams Realty Gold Coast) over 9 years ago

Mike, I am always glad when I take time to read your blog!


Posted by Margaret Rome Baltimore 410-530-2400, Sell Your Home With Margaret Rome ( HomeRome Realty 410-530-2400) over 9 years ago

Too funny-- too funny-- we are hoping that our buyers speak English as we do not speak a lot of other languages.

Posted by Bob & Carolin Benjamin, East Phoenix Arizona Homes (Benjamin Realty LLC) over 9 years ago


I've worked with allot of clients that didn't speak English not just any one can translate. Translators have to be tri-lingual. They have to speak English and Mortgage/Real estate and the clients language.

One family I did allot of loans for spoke a family language combining Spanish and Tagalog, they brought me an uncle who spoke no English, only their 13 year old daughter spoke English. Most of the time I dealt with their local family, at the end of a long day I got a call from the daughter. Her Mother wanted to know how long was the loan for? I was tired I said the loan was amortized over 30 years, click!  When I got to work the family was waiting for me, they'd driven in from LA to have my hide! Or worse!!  It seems the girl had taken amortize for some form of Amory. She though I told her I'd love her over 30 years!

The local Uncle arived just in time. I walked out with them, their stairing at me from the back seat with just the top of her head and eyes showing was the young woman. 



Posted by William J. Archambault, Jr. (The Real Estate Investment Institute ) over 9 years ago

I speak several languages and know how bad the web "translator" are, but I also know  how to interpret them - I am sure that it means "here is a tasteful inside view"

Posted by Christine R. Sutherland, REALTOR - RSPS, e-Pro, TRC (Sun Realty USA, Inc.) over 9 years ago

This is funny, Mike.  I use translation software all the time.  Heaven forbid what I've said to people.

Posted by Jane Peters, Los Angeles real estate concierge services (Home Jane Realty) over 9 years ago

I have relatives that speak German and French fluently.  One evening after dinner we experimented with such software just for fun to see how things were translated.  While there were some good translations, many laughs were had that evening as well.

Posted by Steve Scheer, Highlands Ranch Real Estate - Denver Real Estate (Realty Oasis - Metro Brokers) over 9 years ago

Yes, that translation software can indeed bring about problems!!! Most of my buyers speak English, even those from South America, which is great since my only foreign language that is actually fluent is German.

Posted by Barbara-Jo Roberts Berberi, MA, PSA, TRC - Greater Clearwater Florida Residential Real Estate Professional, Palm Harbor, Dunedin, Clearwater, Safety Harbor (Charles Rutenberg Realty) over 9 years ago

Great post - really interesting -  Reminds me of a joke I played on my step daughter once......


Posted by Brett Reichel, MLO 210215 (Homebridge Financial Services) over 9 years ago

Hence, the reason to hire a translator.  On my team of agents, I have agents fluent in Spanish, French, and Italian.  Don't have any one for Deutsch, but my daughter in law is fluent and available by speaker phone or teleconferencing.  Sorry, but no spraeken ze deutsch here.  It's all about who you know. 

Posted by Juli Vosmik, Scottsdale/Cave Creek, AZ real estate 480-710-0739 (Dominion Fine Properties) over 9 years ago

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Posted by marti garaughty, a highly caffeinated creative type... (garaughty.com) over 9 years ago


Thanks for the feature!


Good point!  You don't need to do it all yourself if you know the right people.


We want to hear about the joke.




I'll bet!  Sounds like you had a good time.


You'll be wracking your brain trying to remember.


Good job reading between the lines.


My ex lived in Saudi as a teenager, and her father turned down an offer of 12 camels for her.  It would have been a good deal, actually...


Thanks for stopping by!


Me too!


I'm glad to help!  Thanks for being the first to comment.

Mike in Tucson

Posted by Mike Jones, Mike Jones NMLS 223495 (SUNSTREET MORTGAGE, LLC (BK-0907366, NMLS 145171) ) over 9 years ago

I once had a deaf couple for clients.  We used a laptop to communicate and it all worked out well.

Posted by Doug Bullwinkel, Mortgage Loan Originator NMLS #281609 (Envoy Mortgage,NMLS ID 6666) over 9 years ago

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