Google has some good news! Earlier this week, Ukranian media noticed a slight glitch wherein Google Translate was giving “Mordor” as a translation for “Russian Federation.” The good news is that they’ve fixed the problem.

Along with the Tolkien problem, “Russians” was coming up as “occupiers” and “Lavrov,” the last name of Russia’s Foreign Minister, was being translated as “sad little horse.” All of these problems, Google says, happened “automatically.” Which suggests that whatever code Google Translate works on either has a weird sense of humor or it picks up synonyms from metaphor and simile used online—and that pairing these things was popular enough for Google Translate to recognize it as a pattern.

While it’s possible for users to suggest alternative translations, that’s supposedly not what happened in this case. Google said in a statement:

Advertisement

Google Translate is an automatic translator—it works without the intervention of human translators, using technology instead. We always work to correct these as quickly as possible when they are brought to our attention.

All of which kind of proves that Google Translate is still a ways away from being a good substitute for a human translator, one that knows the difference between our Earth and Middle Earth, at least in theory.

[BBC News]

Sponsored

Top image via 112 UA


Contact the author at katharine@io9.com.