Google computers hurt the feelings of the Chinese people

You're playing with the Google English-Chinese translation beta, and like any curious individual, you start trying out some dirty language. So you enter "I thought this was fucking shit" and out comes "我认为这是中国运动员拉屎" (I think this is Chinese athlete shit.) Hmmm.

Then there's "i thought this was shame" which ends up "我认为这是中国的耻辱" (I think this is China's shame), and "i thought this was fucking" which becomes "我认为这是中国运动员", (I think this is Chinese athlete).

Tianya forum poster "Fat cat who walks by himself" discovered this and wrote it up in a post calling for a boycott of Googles machine translation. In the thread, posters concentrated on the "fucking" problem. "Seoii" summarizes:

It's only when you have "thought this was" + "fucking" that "fucking" is translated into "Chinese athlete"
Otherwise it's just "athlete". My guess is that it's a programmer messing around.

Shanghai Morning Post picked up the story, running it under the title "Google E-C translation tool loses its mind." The reporters noted that it was not only derogatory phrases that got associated with China; the sentence "I thought this was glory" became "我认为这是中国的荣耀" (I think this is China's glory). In another example, the Chinese "坏学生" (bad student) became "good students."

Google's Ogilvy PR representative explained that the errors were due to the way Google's statistical machine translation operates: it analyzes corresponding words and phrases in a huge pool of bilingual documents to determine the most likely translation. Documents related to international affairs get translated correctly, he said (the inference being that since "fucking" is unlikely to be found in many of the documents in Google's translation database, the translator did not have much data to work with).

The rep also ruled out programmer mischief, saying that human interference "did not exist and could not possibly occur." There appears to have been some human interference in eliminating the problem, however - the offending examples were gone this morning, leaving the original Tianya forum thread, which had no screenshots, to devolve into accusations of rumor-mongering.

The speed at which this all was resolved is actually pretty impressive. The Tianya post was made yesterday, it was picked up on Google's translation forums last night, and it's already in Wikipedia as an example of criticism of Google's Language Tools.

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There are currently 8 Comments for Google computers hurt the feelings of the Chinese people.

Comments on Google computers hurt the feelings of the Chinese people

Is it just me, or what. I am p-r-e-e-t-y damn sure everybody knows what fucking "fucking" means and do without the google E-C, C-E translation....


Happy Holidays!

well if we consider this fucking issue seriously for a moment, fucking translating the word 'fuck' or any of its fucking derivatives (fucks, fucked, fucker, and fucking) would arguably be a real fucking pain in the you-know-where because it is such a fucking versatile word with many not-so-literal meanings.

Like most Chinese criticism of "things western" this starts stupid and reaches totally illogical in seconds flat.

Google's Chinese-English and English-Chinese translation is, as it clearly says on the site, BETA software.

This means the results cannot be relied upon; it's a work in progress; they're not even sure they've got the basics right yet.

That's the stupid.

The illogical is as follows: Google doesn't derive any revenue from translations!

Go to the page. See a single ad? I thought not. So Google stands to lose not a penny from a "boycott".

I've got an even better idea than "Let's all boycott a free beta service from which the service provider doesn't derive any revenue." Are you ready? Here it is:

Let's all stop giving airtime to the lunatic Chinese blog-izen fringe.

Talk about hurting the feelings of the Chinese people! It's morons like the original Tianya poster who are making China look clueless in front of the world.

Apparently some Chinese PhD students have denounced Christmas. Hope you guys can find their original polemic.

i think google has noticed and corrected this fcuking errors.

you may try it now.

ok try this before google fixes it...Go to google. In the search area, type "failure" (no 's'). Instead of hitting search, hit the "I feel lucky" button. See what comes up. I'm pretty sure there is some human intereference in that.

Shan said: Let's all stop giving airtime to the lunatic Chinese blog-izen fringe. The thing about this particular episode is that the air-time given to the rumor essentially quashed it - unlike past reports on BBS hysteria, the Morning Post piece didn't hype things up at all. Compare with the purchase that the wingdings rumor received in the US.

Prince Roy: Been meaning to write about that all week. It's now here.

Tomasz: That's human interference from the user end in the form of a Google-bomb.

I wouldn't be so sure that "fuck" wouldn't occur in English translations of articles having to do with international affairs. There have been a number of problems with the overuse of the word in automatic translations from Chinese to English which have lead to funny translations in grocery stores in China ("Loose Dried Fruit" was translated by Kingsoft 2002 as "Spread to Fuck the Fruit").

For example see: link

I suspect this is really a discussion on solid construction and economic growth, but the automatic translation is.... unfortunate.....

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