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Google Explains Translation Glitch

BOSTON, Mass. (A.W.)—Concerned internet users this week initiated an online campaign after one activist, Lebanese-Armenian Serouj Baghdassarian, noticed that Google’s online translation service (translate.google.com) was mistakenly translating “Ես սիրում եմ հայերին” (“I love Armenians”) to “I love Turkey.”

A screenshot of Google's translation of 'I love Armenians,' which has since been corrected.

“Google Translate is an automated system. It makes guesses based on patterns gleaned from large bodies of human-translated text. It doesn’t do word-by-word dictionary-style translation,” Jason Freidenfelds, from Google’s global communications and public affairs department, told the Armenian Weekly.

“So sometimes [the service] makes mistakes which seem obvious to a human translator, but aren’t to our machine-learning system,” he added.

The translation was corrected by late afternoon on Feb. 19, following a widespread report of the problem that first appeared in the Armenian Weekly.

9 Comments on Google Explains Translation Glitch

  1. avatar Random Armenian // February 22, 2012 at 4:19 pm // Reply

    I think there is more to this than just the body of text on the internet. translate.google.com allows people to offer suggestions to words in the translated text. I don’t know what the google system does with these suggestions but I think this would mean there an additional method by which google learns to translate. When I searched for “Ես սիրում եմ հայերին” I saw a lot of articles on this mistranslation story. I think this means there is *now* a whole bunch of text on the net with the armenian phrase and the mistranslated English! Is google now ignoring these somehow?

  2. avatar Harry Dikranian // February 22, 2012 at 4:27 pm // Reply

    Google still has it wrong though not as bad because “Ես սիրում եմ հայերին” translates to “I like the Armenians.” Only “Ես սիրում եմ հայեր” translates to “I love the Armenians.”

  3. The Google guy should follow the saying ” rather keep mouth shut and let people wonder; than open mouth and let them know for sure ! “

  4. There is a hell of deference between Armenian and the other, how convenient it is to blame it on the system. If that’s the case how many similar major mistakes Google’s automated system had done, and was corrected.

  5. Actually it was corrected by the effort of the ArmEngine group (Armenian Engineers and Scientists Group) who had a contact at Google and expedited the request overnight.

  6. avatar John Keusseyan // February 22, 2012 at 8:50 pm // Reply

    I wonder if I love Jews translates into “I love Hitler”. If it does then I beleive their absurd explanation.

  7. avatar Serouj Baghdassarian // February 23, 2012 at 5:04 am // Reply

    It can not be a coincidence or a machine error, to translate “հայերին” to Turkey!

  8. Dear ‘Commentators’,
    Whatever the supposed ‘explanation’ from the purported ‘perpetrator’ for this offensive, presumed ‘auto-translated’ faux-pas, perceived as specious or otherwise through a whole range of mostly worthy opinions, it all just goes to show just how insidious, misleading, inept and just plain incorrect, too, many such auto-translating ‘facilities’ can prove to be …! It equally demonstrates that such ‘mere automats’ will always be bettered by good, intelligent dedicated professional ‘human’ translators who know ‘right from wrong’ and are fully capable, any day, of ‘questioning laterally’ any possibly doubt-generating point in its translating-context!
    Is anyone familiar with the wise and often appropriately-applicable “Armenian” saying: “Nothing in life is so bad that it can’t be made worse by the manner in which one takes it …” – which I am fond of repeating to myself, whenever faced with some greater – or lesser! – ‘disaster’ … and which could be aptly and constructively quoted in a number even of more serious situations prevailing in our often-tragic world-scene … though, granted, not ‘all bad’ permanently, of course!
    Thank you, whomever … for your learned ‘attentions’!! Mes amities, Corinne
    P.S. Constructive replies – welcome, if you prefer, to: Corinne.Joy@cwgsy.net

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