Google translates Russia to ‘Mordor’ and minister’s name to ‘sad little horse’

The Guardian // 07th January 2016

Powered by article titled “Google translates Russia to ‘Mordor’ and minister’s name to ‘sad little horse'” was written by Hannah Jane Parkinson, for on Thursday 7th January 2016 12.36 UTC

Google has fixed an “automated” error which saw its online translating tool convert “Russian Federation” into “Mordor”.

Other erroneous translations included “russians” becoming “occupiers” and the name of Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, rendered as “sad little horse”.

Mordor is the fictional realm in JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings books, also known as the land of shadows.

The error, which Google said is down to an automatic bug, appeared in the online tool when users converted the Ukranian language into Russian.

In 2014, Kremlin-supported forces annexed the Ukrainian region of Crimea, with Russian soldiers entering Ukrainian territory.

Sergey Lavrov
Sergey Lavrov, Russian’s foreign minister, who’s name was translated into ‘sad little horse’ from Ukranian. Photograph: Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP

In a statement provided to the Guardian, however, Google said its translator tool works “without the intervention of human translators”.

“When Google Translate generates a translation, it looks for patterns in hundreds of millions of documents to help decide the best translation.

russian translation

“Automatic translation is very difficult, as the meaning of words depends on the context in which they’re used. This means that not all translations are perfect, and there will sometimes be mistakes or mistranslations.”

Many screenshots were taken of the erroneous translations in the past few days and shared widely on social media, particularly on VKontakte (VK) – the Russian language equivalent of Facebook.

Google has since fixed the bug.

Apple refuses to answer questions over ‘homophobic’ Russian Siri © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010


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