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mistake fall
We all slip up every now
and then.

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  • Google Translate is one of the most popular online
    translators in the world, but it occasionally drops the
    ball
  • People have gotten bizarre and humorous results when
    they type in certain characters
  • Sometimes the translations are strangely
    poetic.

Machine translators have made impressive strides since they first
gained popularity online in the early 2000s.

The most popular translating service, Google
Translate, upped the ante in 2016 when it introduced a
system that translates whole sentences at a time, rather than
taking them fragment by fragment.

But despite the advancements in technology, there are still
plenty of moments when Google doesn’t quite nail a
translation, whether because of a glitch, an ambiguous choice of
words, or human trickery.

Look what it did with this list of 30 countries

A reader of the linguistics blog Language Log noticed
in April that a bizarre thing happened when he entered a
list of countries for Google to translate into Spanish.

Ten of the 30 countries got cut from Google’s version of the
list, and for some reason, Honduras is repeated four times,
while Guatemala and the United States appear twice.


google translateLanguage
Log

It also seems the online translation made some attempt
to retain the alphabetical order of the original list, but
didn’t quite get the job done.

Then there’s the case of the ‘decearing egg’

One of Google Translate’s most spectacular fails went viral in
April after a user filmed his attempt to translate two
Japanese characters.

The video, viewed nearly 4 million times, shows the
user entering the two characters repeatedly and noting the
increasingly bizarre translations Google comes up with each step
of the way.

The first set of characters is translated as “return.” Then
there’s “regret,” “eco-production,” “Eiffel Tower,” and several
instances of the perplexing nonsense phrase “decearing egg.”

Things go completely off the rails when he gets back translations
like “Transportation Eastern maple Egg bag,” “Delicaceness of
deep-sea squeeze trees,” and for good measure,
DECEARING EGUEEGEGUGE deep-sea
EEGEGEGYE EGGTAG.”

Sometimes Google is strangely poetic

Linguist Ben Zimmer noticed that other sets of Japanese
characters, when repeated over and over, yield strangely poetic
results. For example, when he repeatedly entered two
characters
(pronounced e tsu), Google gave him the
following work of art:

A house
Etsu
Escorts
Evangelion
Escape to the world
Electric roof top
Eyes
Eyes
A terrible experience
I miss you for a friend
I’m Loveland
I’m afraid to use it
I loan it for you
I miss you for a ___ ___ 0
Irregular situation
IMPORTANT NOT LIABILITIES
I felt it was a big experience.
Meanwhile Canoeing
Meanwhile, it is a must do for you
Meanwhile I can say that I am a
Meanwhile, we are a
Meanwhile, we are a
Take a look at the top of the page
I miss you for a moment.
IMPORTANT: I can not go wrong.

And typing every single letter in order apparently means
something too

Perhaps the weirdest Google Translate quirk yet involves the
Vietnamese alphabet. As another Language Log user observed,
when you type each letter of the Vietnamese alphabet in order as
they appear on a keyboard, Google spits out a vaguely coherent
sentence riddled with legalese:


translateLanguage Log

I tried the same thing with a slightly different set of letters,
and started deleting characters one by one, with interesting
results:

While Google Translate has certainly come a long way, there are
clearly a few wrinkles it still needs to iron out.

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