Hiring a professional translator may seem like a costly alternative to using an online translator. But, how intelligent is Google Translate? Can it compare to the skill of a human translator? To find out, we put machine translation to the test using the German version of the classic fairy tale ‘Sleeping Beauty’.
Translation blunder 1
First things first, translation software fails to correctly translate the most important word in the entire story – the main character’s name at its first mention! It has kindly clarified her state of slumber twice, just in case we were unsure…
Translation blunder 2
The princess enters the room and asks the old woman what she’s doing. She should reply that she is spinning (at the spindle, which Sleeping Beauty eventually pricks her finger on). According to the translation software however, she blurts out “I’m crazy”. The German “Ich spinne” can of course mean both. What Google Translate has failed quite spectacularly to do is consider the context.
Translation blunder 3
So, we’ve reached the climax of the story. Everything rests on this moment. The brave prince has risked life and limb to reach the princess in the tower. He bends down to kiss Sleeping Beauty, who has out of nowhere magically turned into…
Yes, it appears the gender of the German word for Sleeping Beauty has confused the translation software into believing the princess is in fact male…
So, there you have it. Three epic fails, all of which would have been completely avoidable if the translation software had a human mind with which to consider the context of the words it was translating.
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