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Google Explains Translation Glitch

Screenshot of mistranslation

Posted by Weekly Staff on February 22, 2012

BOSTON, Mass. (A.W.)—Concerned internet users this week initiated an online campaign after one activist, Lebanese-Armenian Serouj Baghdassarian, noticed that Google’s online translation service (translate.google.com) was mistakenly translating “Ես սիրում եմ հայերին” (“I love Armenians”) to “I love Turkey.”

“Google Translate is an automated system. It makes guesses based on patterns gleaned from large bodies of human-translated text. It doesn’t do word-by-word dictionary-style translation,” Jason Freidenfelds, from Google’s global communications and public affairs department, told the Armenian Weekly.

“So sometimes [the service] makes mistakes which seem obvious to a human translator, but aren’t to our machine-learning system,” he added.

The translation was corrected by late afternoon on Feb. 19, following a widespread report of the problem that first appeared in the Armenian Weekly.