Offensive translation of word ‘gay’ by Google.


Even huge organisations can get into trouble because of translation errors. Moreover, even companies specialising in translation, albeit machine translation, can get it wrong.


More than 50,000 people have signed a petition calling on Google to change their translations of the word ‘gay’. The machine translation tool offered by Google has been using homophobic and derogatory terms when translating word ‘gay’.


As reported in press (CLICK HERE) Google translate has been serving words such as ‘poof’, ‘queen’ or ‘pansy boy’ when translating into some European languages. Google have admitted that the algorithm produces translations by using translations found on other websites, and as it is an automated process such issues can occasionally come up.


Google have apologised for the issue and for any offence this might have caused, which was the right thing to do. However, this incident just shows how difficult translation is and that human translation is still by far the most reliable option. Only human translator is able to consider the target audience and context appropriately and use the most accurate terms to convey the translated message.


The machine translation has been improving in recent years, but it is still only good for providing general idea of the text. Therefore, it’s not advised to use machine translation tools for business purposes. If you need to make decisions based on the translated text (such as in legal translation, or the translated text will be used to represent your business (such as marketing translation , you should really rely only on human translation done by professional linguists.

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