1. Feature

March’s Marvellous Translation Tales from around the Web

Welcome one, welcome all, to our alliteration-packed look back at some of the marvellous translation tales from around the web. The month of March provided rich pickings for our expert spotters who were able to identify four stories that should pique your interest and maybe even induce a small smile.

So, from the new French trend of ‘souping’ to why Google Translate is a sexist pig, let’s get stuck in!

1. Souping – just like juicing, but with soup

1. Souping

Ladies and gents, we are now entering a post-soup eating world. That’s right – no longer will we be making or eating soup, from now until the end of time we will be forever ‘souping’.

Quite rightly, Elle France received a good ribbing online for a recent article it published on the trend of ‘souping’. Now I can tell you I’ve been eating soup for 34 years, but not once have I been called trendy.

The reason for this linguistic travesty is the French habit of adding a suffix to existing words to make them sound trendier. So, what with Elle France being Elle France, rather than eating a bowl of soup, all the sexy people are now busy souping, and we’re sure they all look incredible doing it.

You can read more about the souping scandal here.

2. “Alexa, tell me you love me in German”

2. Alexa

According to an article on Yahoo Finance, the omnipotent retailer Amazon hopes to turn its all-singing, all-dancing virtual assistant Alexa, who as far as we know can’t sing or dance, into a real-time translator.

If creating an automated real-time translator wasn’t enough of a challenge given that everyone who has ever tried has failed miserably so far, Amazon also wants Alexa to have an understanding of the culture of the country she’s translating into.

For example, when translating English into Japanese, Alexa’s intimate understanding of Japanese culture (she’s never been) would lead to a generally more formal and conservative translation.

3. Google Translate is a sexist pig!

As if we haven’t done enough automated translation software bashing for one week, now we have to share the news that Google Translate is sexist. Yes, according to Forbes, because humankind is sexist, and humankind created the algorithm behind Google Translate, Google Translate is also sexist.

For instance, when translating from Turkish, which has gender-neutral pronouns, into English ‘o bir muhendis’ becomes ‘he is an engineer’, while ‘o bir hemsire’ becomes ‘she is a nurse’. Similarly, if Google Translate sees the acronym ‘CEO’, it auto-suggests a picture of a man in a suit.

Clearly there’s no escaping biases, but at least when you work with a human translator, they can make sure any biases are corrected to avoid causing offence.

4. There’s no such thing as too big an omelette


We might have just given Google Translate a bit of a hard time, but now we’re going to stand up and protect its good name.

In the recent PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games, the Norwegian team chose to use the automated software to order some food from a South Korean supplier. We all know athletes like their eggs, particularly those curlers, but rather than 1,500 eggs, Google Translate made a little whoopsy that meant they ended up ordering 15,000.

We’re not sure why this was an issue because there’s no such thing as too many eggs. However, according to the Guardian, the Norwegian team chef didn’t agree. He said: “We received half a truckload of eggs and there was no end to the delivery”.

Make your own egg-based puns here because we’re not going to do it for you.

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