Norwegian agency chooses Funka to test automatic translation

On behalf of Norway's Companies Registration Office, The Brønnøysund Register Centre, Funka has tested and analyzed how machine translations could be used without compromising comprehension. This is to investigate whether machine translation can be an alternative or complement to manual translation carried out by the authority's own staff.

The results of the tests may be of interest to other authorities facing the same dilemma: translating all content manually becomes too expensive, but is the quality of the automatic translations good enough? Funka has previously conducted surveys of how machine translations are used in Swedish municipalities and it is clear that reliability has improved, although there are still challenges.

We chose Funka because they work with the users' needs and we trust that their recommendations would have a user focus, says Mette Saltnes, Web master at the Brønnøysund Register Centre

The Norwegian Companies Registration Office offers information in English mainly to reach people with another mother tongue. Therefore, the tests were performed with people from Russia, Mexico, Poland, Chile, Sweden and also Norway. The test subjects were from 23 to 60 years with a level of education from high school to academic studies.

We had Google Translate translate texts of varying complexity into English, as far as possible in the original design context. The test subjects read the content of the translated page and answered control questions.

Results of the study

The fact that words are translated in different ways depending on the complexity and content of the sentence creates confusion and uncertainty among the end users. Some sentences become completely incomprehensible in the translation. Nevertheless, most test subjects in the study understand the general content of the text based on the context.

At the same time, there are many small details that can have major consequences if they are misunderstood and therefore it is important that you also understand details and nuances in the texts.

Some of the problems with the translations are due to the fact that technical terminology and relatively difficult or unusual words are used in the Norwegian text.

In order for machine translation to work well, the texts need to follow plain language recommendations as much as possible, which of course also makes it easier for readers who use the Norwegian version of the text.

Other measures can similarly make it easier not only for people with another mother tongue but broad target groups with reading and writing problems, cognitive impairments and people who do not know the specific terminology from before. The most important recommendations are:

  • combine text with pictures and illustrations to increase understanding
  • explain difficult concepts
  • offer text to speech services, like for example BrowseAloud


Susanna Laurin

Title: Chief Research and Innovation Officer (Susanna Laurin)

+46 8 555 770 61 (Susanna Laurin)