Monday, December 3, 2018

More Sins of Google Translate - Sally Zahav

by Sally Zahav

I would love to see what kind of algorithms they use to come up with these translations.

There has been some media attention lately to the alleged attempts of media giants such as Facebook, Twitter and the Google search engine to distort what might be natural results of the their tools.

We have heard of shadowbanning, certain Facebook entries being taken down or even entire accounts being made unavailable for PC reasons, in order, ostensibly, to press their liberal thumbs on the scale of media discourse. Although they may vehemently deny that they have such intent in public, what their staff members say in private paints another sort of picture.

Since I am a translator, I occasionally use tools such as Google Translate, albeit with caution, precisely because of what I illustrate in the text that follows.

Some of the readers will find it easier than others to get the full gist of what is described here, depending on the reader's familiarity with the Hebrew language.

What follows is a paragraph from an article that I was recently asked to translate. For the record, most of the translation to English is reasonable. 

But there are three obvious problems. One is actually the result of a mistake by the writer of the original Hebrew, who mistakenly changes the  order of two letters, writing שעקירו  (which uprooted) instead of שעיקרו (whose main thrust is). These words are written in red.

The inexcusable, blatant, and seemingly intentional, mis-translations are the one in yellow and the one in blue. Yes, I know, the blue sentence does not appear in the English part. All will be explained.

Here is the original text in Hebrew:
השר לשעבר גדעון סער, מבכירי הליכוד, הביע בנאומו תמיכה בהחלת הריבונות ובפתרון מדיני אזורי שעקירו אוטונומיה עבור ערביי יהודה ושומרון. לדבריו על ישראל "לעשות מהלך שיביא את הנורמליזציה ויגיד שאנחנו שם לעד" כשפירט יותר אמר סער כי "השלב הראשון חייב להיות החלת הריבונות על היישובים היהודיים בשטחי יו”ש. צריך לבנות בכל מקום בארץ ישראל. ההתיישבויות אינה מכשול לשלום".
Google Translate's output in English:
Former Minister Gideon Sa'ar, a senior Likud member, expressed support for the application of sovereignty and a regional political solution that uprooted autonomy for the Arabs of Judea and Samaria. "The first stage must be the application of sovereignty over the Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria," he said, adding that "the settlements must not be built in any place in the Land of Israel.  
The English translation of the Hebrew sentence in yellow should read "We must build in every place in the Land of Israel". Notice, no mention of "settlements" in the Hebrew, and much, much more egregious, the actual import - the true meaning - is 180 degrees opposite from what Google Translate would like it to be!

Now for the blue sentence. It's simply not there. The English translation of the blue Hebrew sentence should be "The settlements are not an obstacle to peace". It is not a complicated grammatical construct. The vocabulary is basic and unambiguous. But for whatever reason, Google Translate did not see fit to translate it at all.

What gives?!!!

Sally Zahav

Source:Middle East and Terrorism

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