A British couple recently wrote to The Sofia Echo to highlight offensive language used on a Bulgarian-language website, but what transpired was a cautionary tale in using machine translation.

It wasn’t the language used on the website which was at fault, it was the Google Translation tool used by the couple to translate from Bulgarian into English.

Who could know a hyphen would be so important

The couple attempted to translate information about a flight, translating into English the Bulgarian phrase Чекин Информация which means to ‘check-in’. This should be relatively straightforward, but no, when the British couple translated the phrase, the English translation was ‘****ing information’.

It was simply the case that the Bulgarian-language website had not used a hyphen in the phrase but as Google Translate fails to read translations in context, it resulted in the embarrassing mistranslation.

Machine translation will often produce translations which are erroneous as it literally translates word by word. If an exact and true translation is sought then a native language speaker is indispensable – which is what we do at Global Lingo! We translate for you, without the use of machines.

Google Translate failures

This account is not uncommon (see some other Google translate fails) and acts as a deterrent in the use of machine translation. As I have mentioned previously – Google don’t even use Google Translate!