Why you should leave Machine Translation to the professionals – Our 10 favourite Google Translate fails

Machine Translation tools allow for the near instant translation of huge volumes of text, and these highly sophisticated artificial intelligences are becoming better all the time. However, as they become smarter, and the idea of their usage begins to spread, some people are falling into the trap of thinking that Google Translate is their free translation saviour.

In light of this, as a professional translating and interpreting agency, we thought it might be worth us shedding some light on why that’s just not the case, and using Google Translate for your professional needs will likely get you more laughs than sales.

At some point in your personal or professional life, you will likely have used Google Translate for the odd phrase here and there. While it’s great for translating simple conversational phrases and can be a handy travel tool, for example, Google Translate has its pitfalls, or, if you like, Очраклы тәрҗемә аның тозакларына in Tartar. Although show this to a Tartar speaker in Google Translate and they’ll see “random translation to his pitfalls.”

For fun, and to prove a point, we thought we’d show you our 10 favourite Google Translate fails:

     10. Seems a little biased?

While this is clearly an older version of Google Translate, it demonstrates how the platform once even struggled with the simple stuff that it now excels at.

     9. Maybe taxi services shouldn’t be offering divorce

This automatic translation shows just why it’s worth translating your own marketing materials before sending them out and, in this case, offering a divorce.

     8. Beware the clothes sandwich

Not entirely certain what a clothes sandwich is but it doesn’t sound great. Again, this demonstrates where a professional service could have helped translate important information, although then maybe we wouldn’t have been gifted this wonderful sign …

     7. Is there such a thing as good customer abuse?

Apparently, if you want to be abused as a customer this is the place to go.

     6. What?

This probably made perfect sense in German but not anymore.

     5. Cake is delicious

Obviously, the only way this cake was so delicious is as a consequence of someone being burned, how else would it be so good?

     4. Not sure those are real numbers

This is a perfect illustration of where technical information in particular can be literally lost in translation, a genuine concern for engineering or medical industries, but just funny in this case.  

     3. Failure bathroom

You’d feel a little embarrassed heading into this bathroom.

     2. Ah, the wonders of modern science …

Apparently, Google Translate’s never seen a DNA sequence before, and seemed to think it was Somali?

  1. We definitely want to go to this zoo

Who wouldn’t want to see a horse, a female cat, and a lumpy fish?

Google Translate and similar online tools have their purpose, but so many of these people could have done with speaking to a professional about their translation needs. At Word360, we use our dedicated software platform, Wordskii, to provide expert translation and interpretation services in over 450 languages and in a way that is both cost and time efficient. Don’t be like the zoo claiming to exhibit a lumpy fish or the taxi service delivering divorce right to your door, contact Word360 today and we’ll save you a whole lot of embarrassment.

Written by Ioana Gaicea

About the author