Man vs machine for German to English translation services


Mirror, mirror on the wall, which is most competent of them all?

Mirror mirror on the wall...
These days, the question on everyone’s lips is, “Can you trust computers for your translation services?” Last month, we looked at the English to German translation of a famous line from the story of ‘The three little pigs’ – find out what happened here. Today, we’re investigating further by putting an extract from classic fairy tale ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’ through machine translation software, this time from German to English.

We pick up where the huntsman has just let Snow White free after finding himself unable to kill her as instructed by the Evil Queen. So, whose organs did the huntsman decide to bring back instead of Snow White’s? The German reads:

  • Und als gerade ein junger Frischling dahergesprungen kam, stach er ihn ab, nahm Lunge und Leber heraus und brachte sie als Wahrzeichen der Königin mit.

Translation website Deepl has translated this sentence as follows:

  • And just as a young young man was jumping along, he stabbed him, took out his lungs and liver and brought them with him as a symbol of the queen.


That’s right, according to this machine translation the huntsman decided to brutally murder a young man – or should I say a ‘young young man’ – who happened to be innocently passing by. In the real story of course, it was a young wild boar that he chose to kill.

Also, we’re pretty sure the huntsman didn’t take the organs as a ‘symbol of the queen’, but rather took them to the Queen as proof that Snow White was dead.

Although machine translation is advancing nowadays, it still often slips up on context-specific and grammatical aspects such as the examples seen here.

So, if you decide to use computers instead of human translation services, beware of those mistakes that may alter the meaning quite drastically.


This may also interest you:

Disclaimer: All of the translation examples given in this blog represent the translation quality provided by the online translation tools in question at the time of publishing.