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Translation News: 5 Stories to Keep You In The Know

Can you believe we’re already one month into 2016? Neither can we! Life moves fast. Here are five language and translation news stories you may have missed.

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Google Translate Fail: Russia is “Mordor”

We’re not even out of January yet, and already Google Translate has made a high-profile (and hilarious) error. The online translation service’s algorithms somehow decided that when translating from Ukrainian to Russian, “Russia” should be translated as “Mordor.”

Additionally, the service translated  Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov’s name as “sad little horse.” No word on whether Putin became “Sauron” or not.

The error was probably caused by online chatter from Ukrainians about Russia, which took a turn for the dark side after the Russian annexation of Crimea.

Google released a statement on the matter which almost perfectly demonstrates why you should think twice about using Google Translate for your business:

“Google Translate is an automatic translator – it works without the intervention of human translators, using technology instead. This means that not all translations are perfect, and there will sometimes be mistakes or mistranslations. We always work to correct these as quickly as possible when they are brought to our attention.”

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9 Language and Translation Stories You May Have Missed 

We’re already one month into 2017, and it’s already shaping up to be a busy year in the world of language and translation. Feel like you’re falling behind? Read these 9 language and translation stories you may have missed.

The Rosetta Wearable Disk: Language Preservation is in Fashion

Sad but true: We lose another language every 14 days. But now, you can wear more than 1,000 languages around your neck, thanks to the Long Now Foundation’s Rosetta Wearable Disk.  It’s a silver-and-gold necklace on a chain that uses nanotechnology to store over 1,000 minuscule nickel “pages” printed with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 327 languages and vocabulary for 719 more.

This would be an amazing gift for the language lover in your life . . . but it will cost you. How much? A “donation” of $1000 or more.  

Finally, I feel obligated to note that the Smithsonian story I’m linking to isn’t quite correct. There are currently 6,000-7,000 living languages, of which 3,748 have a writing system. So no, the disk doesn’t include “All of the world’s languages.” Just a lot of them.  Read more

Translation News Round Up: 9 Stories to Keep You In the Know

What’s been going on the translation industry lately? Here are 9 language and translation news stories to keep you in the know.

How To Instantly Identify Any Languagetranslation news alphabets

Raise your savoir faire quotient in minutes with this easy-to-learn party trick that makes you look like the smartest person in the room. Read this article to learn how to identify almost any written language, even if you can’t read a word of it.

Learning a New Language Can Boost Your Attention Span in Only One Week

Language learning has many benefits, including better problem solving skills and a more focused attention span. Now, researchers at the University of Edinburgh have demonstrated that students can get a brain boost from learning a new language after only a week of intensive study. The benefit persisted as long as the students continued practicing for at least five hours a week.

Lionsgate Leads Effort To Provide Local-Language Films Around the World

Lionsgate just announced a new venture: Globalgate Entertainment. Globalgate aims to remake and adapt successful films for different markets around the world. According to the Hollywood Reporter, “Lionsgate points to a thriving world market for local-language films — a 90 percent share in India, 60 percent of China’s exhibition market, 55 percent in Japan and a 50 percent share in Korea — to explain its backing for Globalgate.”

Google Search Now Translates Automatically

Google Search will now translate any foreign words you search for automatically. No need to pull up Google Translate. No need to do anything except search for a word in a language that’s different to the one you’re browsing in. No need to give permission; Google would rather ask for forgiveness.  Or not.  Your feelings on this matter are irrelevant. Read more

Worth Reading: 7 Language and Translation Stories From February

Can you believe it’s March already? Let’s get the first weekend of the month started off right, with a look at some of the top language and translation stories from the past month. Enjoy!

Norway’s Olympic chefs learn the perils of relying on Google Translate

Here at K International, we still get clients and potential clients who ask “Why can’t we just use Google Translate?”

Norway’s Olympic team learned the hazards of this approach firsthand when they accidentally ordered  15,000 eggs instead of 1,500 from a South Korean supplier, due to a translation error.  According to the Guardian, chef Stale Johansen said his team “received half a truckload of eggs.” The chef said there was “no end to the delivery,” and called it “absolutely unbelievable.”

New Google Translate Songs From the Tonight Show


Google Translate is never perfect, but it works better in some languages than others. The Tonight Show recently did another round of “Google Translate Songs,” with Jimmy Fallon and Kelly Clarkson. They translated three songs to Mongolian and back again using the free translation service. Based on the results, I’m assuming Mongolian is not one of Google’s best languages.

“Feel It Still” by Portugal The Man became “I Live In a Boat,” and featured the lyric “Your wood, I have not picked it up yet.” “Sonny and Cher’s “I Got You Babe” turned into “I Have Your Child” and Kelly Clarkson’s song “Stronger” turned into a bunch of gibberish

Do you still think you can trust Google Translate with your business content?
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Your Language News Digest: 6 Stories to Read Now

With so much going on in the world right now, it’s no wonder if you haven’t been keeping up with all the latest language and translation stories. Let’s get you caught up, shall we? Here are 6 fun and interesting language news articles from the past month.

Language News: A New English Translation of Saddam Hussein, Just in Time for Christmas

Apparently, George R.R. Martin has some competition from beyond the grave, from one of the world’s most notorious dictators. UK publishing house Hesperus has announced it will be publishing an English translation of a Saddam Hussein novella in December 2016. Just what you wanted in your stocking, right?

According to the Guardian, “Hesperus described the book as “a mix between Game of Thrones and the UK House of Cards-style fiction”, and said it was full of political intrigue.”

The book is being used to launch an imprint focusing on “Eastern” literature. Which raises the question: Couldn’t Hesperus have found a more deserving author to honor?

Given that the New York Times called it “a forgettable piece of pulp,” it seems safe enough to assume that Hesperus isn’t publishing the novella for its literary merit.

So, who should they have gone with instead? Suggest your favorite un- or under-translated “Eastern” author in the comments!

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