Google Inc Translate Giving Out Politically Awkward Results In Ukraine

Updated on

Google Translate has been giving awkward results to people who tried translating some Ukrainian words into Russian this week, says a report from The Washington Post. The term “Russian Federation” translated to “Mordor,” while the name of Russia’s top diplomat was translated as a “sad little horse.”

Google took a day to resolve the issue

There is no information on if the cheeky messages were due to a hack or whether someone at Google was trying sending a message. The Ukrainian media reported that the problem persisted for one complete day before being solved in late afternoon on Tuesday, Moscow time.

Russia and Ukraine are two neighboring nations which economic and cultural ties tightly bounded the two once. Owing to political reasons, the two countries have not been on speaking terms since February 2014. Most of the economic ties between the two have been cut since then, and no commercial flights take place between them any longer.

Ukraine has been in a free-trade agreement with the European Union since Jan. 1. In response, Russia cut off Ukraine from its free-trade zone, which includes many former Soviet republics.

Was it done intentionally?

One of the errors was a “Russian” being translated as an “occupant.” The last name of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was being translated as “sad little horse,” or “grustnaya loshadka.” There is no news whether or not he has lodged an official complaint over it.

There is a linguistic similarity between Russian and Ukrainian, and Google’s automatic translation service between the two languages is generally very reliable. Ukrainska Pravda — a major Ukrainian news outlet — uses Google Translate to switch its entire site into Russian.

This means that all mentions of “the Russian Federation’ were translated into “Mordor,” which is a grim, volcanic region in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.  The term is often used by pro-Ukrainian activists to refer to Russia. RBC Russia quoted an unnamed Google spokesperson as saying that complex algorithms are used to translate languages, and they depend on the context in which words are used in documents and websites.

“Therefore, there are mistakes and mistranslations, and we try to fix them as soon as possible after finding out about them,” the spokesman said.

Leave a Comment