How much can you trust Google?

 

Good Writing Wednesday to you all! On Wednesdays, we talk all things writing, including use (and overuse of) similes, character development, plotlines, subplot lines and, in today’s example, research.

As writers, perhaps the most time-saving device that was ever created for us is the Internet. Whenever we imagine our characters slogging through a sewer system or crossing a river pulling a decrepit wooden ferry on a rope line, we don’t have to actually go there. Chances are, someone, somewhere has done that very thing. Chances are also very high that if it’s cool enough, they took a picture of it, wrote a few things about what makes it so cool and posted that information somewhere on the web for us to find with a few keystrokes.

Another goldmine for us writers is using the web to make our characters speak in languages that we don’t know. Case in point, I used Google translate tool to have my heroine in my latest thriller, The Brink, speak French. She was French and spoke in her mother tongue on occasion throughout the book. I not only translated what she was saying from English to French, but once I got the French, I translated it back to English to make sure it was correct.

Well, I met with a book club over the weekend that reviewed the book and one of the ladies was a French major in college. While she said that the words were technically correct, they hadn’t been conjugated correctly. In other words, the French I used was supposed to be conversational, but it was grammatically incorrect.

So, what do we learn from this? Is Google evil and does it want to trip us writers up that use their translator? No. The takeaway here is that machines are still machines. They will give us the correct translation, but the correct translation doesn’t always fit in with the words that surround it or the conversation that is being spoken. So, while Google and the web are priceless research tools, it still pays to call up a living, breathing person who knows the language you are trying to use and ask them if what you are using is correct. You can always repay their assistance by mentioning them on the acknowledgement page. Très bonne!

Ever have a case when you’ve relied upon research you found on the web, only to be told it is incorrect? To the keyboards!

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Mark Fadden is a freelance writer and author. Bestselling author Sandra Brown recently had this to say about Mark’s latest novel, The Brink: “[The Brink] is a hell of a read. The chemistry between [the main characters] Danny and Sydney is terrific. The action sequences were heart-pounding, and I was left feeling that you have a sequel in mind!” Check out The Brink and Mark’s other books at www.markfadden.com.

BREAKING NEWS!!! The Brink is now available as an eBook for Amazon.com Kindle  for only $2.99!

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