Google Translate Hits Russia With Lord of the Rings-Inspired Burn

Also, Russia's foreign minister is actually a 'sad little horse'
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 6, 2016 3:04 PM CST
Google Translate Hits Russia With Lord of the Rings -Inspired Burn
Google Translate was lobbing some "Lord of the Rings"-inspired insults at Russia over the weekend.   (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo, File)

Everyone knows Google Translate can be a bit iffy at times. But it's not often that its mistranslations burn an entire country. Vocativ reports the service was recently caught changing "Russian Federation" into "Mordor" when translating from Ukrainian to Russian. As the Telegraph explains, Mordor is "the lair of evil and chaos" from Lord of the Rings. Other insulting mistranslations included translating "Russians" into "occupiers" and "Sergey Lavrov"—Russia's foreign minister—into "sad little horse." Ukrainians gleefully posted screenshots of the mistranslations all over social media. But the glitch appeared to have been fixed by the end of Tuesday, the Washington Post reports.

It's unclear if Google Translate was hacked by an outsider or used by a programmer to make a statement, as its translation between Ukrainian and Russian is "usually quite reliable," the Post reports. According to the Telegraph, Google itself is blaming a "technical error." The company claims it doesn't use any humans for its translation service, Vocativ reports. “When Google Translate generates automatic translation, it uses a sample of the hundreds of millions of documents to determine which option may be the most appropriate translation," according to a statement from the company. The Telegraph reports the mistranslations all stem from insults that have become popular since Russia took over Crimea in 2014. (More Russia stories.)

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