Automated translation fail

Automated translations of Facebook posts are meant to help, but one I’ve just read was inaccurate or incoherent or both. Among other things, it translated 아들아! (a-deul-a), a standard vocative which might be translated as ‘hey, son!’) as ‘You son of a bitch!’. There are multiple references to “father” and “son”, but it from the English translation it is impossible to tell whether the writer is talking about his father and son, himself and his father (referring to himself as “son”), himself and his son (referring to himself as “father”) or someone else’s father and son etc. There was just enough coherence to know that he was not talking about fathers and sons in general, or about God the Father and God the Son, which would otherwise be two more possibilities.

(For the record, “You son of a bitch!” in Korean is 너 개자식! (neo gae-ja-sik). I am not only relying on a translator for that; I did ask a native speaker (not by saying it to them directly!). Don’t rely on translation tools for insults.)


2 thoughts on “Automated translation fail

  1. Apparently both automated translators and predictive word choices can get one in trouble. Sometimes they cause embarrassment, sometimes confusion, sometimes they’re just good for a laugh. Early on with predictive word choice my brother was shooting a good percentage of the J.C. Penney’s commercials, on which I also worked. When he was writing up proposals for spots he found, to his horror, that everytime he wrote “J.C. Penney’s” the program automatically changed it to J.C. Penis! Much less embarrassing, I discovered that every time I wrote, and still write, “obvious”, it gets changed to “bivouac”. I have never used the word ‘bivouac’ but, somehow, the program thinks I should be using it.


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