Here are some funny examples of machine translation fails, from Facebook to Google Translate and Google’s mangled versions of advertisements. Then, there’s the time when Coca-Cola decided to translate a message from te reo Maori into English, rather than hiring a professional translator. In these hilarious examples, the translator may have simply plugged in the entire menu and not consulted with an expert.
Google Translate’s mangled translations
You’ve probably heard about some humorous examples of machine translation fails, but you might be wondering what they are and how they’re created. Well, the technology behind machine translation is based on statistics, which means that it can sometimes make mistakes. But don’t despair, the technology is improving. Here are some funny examples of machine translation fails:
A translation fails because the source language is not the same as the target language. There are many ways to say the same thing, not to mention the linguistic nuance. Incorrect translations can be hilarious! Here are some examples of funny mistranslations created by machine translation. Read on to find out how human translators can improve the process. And be prepared for more hilarious examples in the future! Keep reading to find some humorous examples of machine translation fails.
Facebook’s automatic translation
In one hilarious example, a Palestinian posted a photo of himself standing up against a bulldozer and wrote “Good morning” in Arabic. But Facebook’s automatic translation service mistranslated the caption, which was intended to be “good morning” in Arabic into “attack them” in Hebrew and English. Facebook apologised and clarified that the translation was indeed a mistake, but still, the incident is worth highlighting.
While machine translation is better than human beings, it can’t quite catch up. It’s important to remember that translation involves subtle collections of words and syntax, nuance, and a sense of play between competing syntaxes. This means that Facebook’s translation service is a far cry from this human quality. While some of the errors are funny, there are plenty of other examples that are equally as funny.
Coca-Cola’s te reo Maori
After incorporating the indigenous Maori language into their marketing strategy, Coca-Cola accidentally wrote ‘Hello, Death’ on a vending machine. Despite its good intentions, the slogan has been misinterpreted as ‘Hello, Death’ when translated into English. While the term “mate” means friend in English, it actually means ‘death’ in Maori. The company apologized for the error and defended its marketing strategy.
In the recent past, Te Reo Maori has received a massive revival, thanks to a renewed interest in Maori culture and heritage. Google has a Maori search feature and recently began rendering more accurate Maori language phrases on its Maps service. Even Disney recently released a Maori language version of the hit Polynesian film Moana, directed by half-Maori Taika Waititi. Despite the embarrassing error, social media users still managed to find humor in the incident.
Coca-Cola’s failure to consult a professional translator
In China, Coca-Cola’s failed translation campaign resulted in a name that meant “bite the wax tadpole” or “female horse stuffed with wax.” The company was left to scramble through 40,000 characters to come up with a more suitable translation. In the end, they decided on “ko-kou-ko-le,” which loosely translates to “happiness in the mouth.”
The commercial featured images of majestic American landscapes and the song “America the Beautiful” in seven languages. This caused widespread outrage and some people even resorted to boycotting Coca-Cola products. While there is no official language in the United States, about 60 million people speak languages other than English at home. Therefore, Coca-Cola should have consulted a professional translator before printing their advertisements.