Tag Archives: Google Translate

Tuesday’s Terrible Translations

Automatic online translators such as Google Translate are notably unreliable. By looking for patterns in billions of documents, these free online services try to apply translations that have already been done by humans to your text. Google uses complex algorithms to make an educated guess as to the best translation, meaning that the output is based on a calculation rather than any form of linguistic logic. As a result, there are many mistakes.

Here is one of the terrible translations we found this week on Google…

French bad trans

In French Il prit ses jambes à son cou means that he took off in a hurry. The literal meaning is ‘he put his legs in his neck’, meaning he is running away very quickly. Unfortunately Google doesn’t seem to be aware of this expression, as a result it believes that instead of running away from something, the man in question took her legs around his neck!

I think Parker may have used a similar free translator for their ball point pen campaign in Mexico.

In English the slogan was…. It won’t leak in your pocket and embarrass you


Unfortunately in Mexico, the message read “It won’t leak in your pocket and make you pregnant.”

The word embarrass which should be “avergonzar” in Spanish, had been incorrectly translated as the word for pregnant “embarazar”.

It is still a pretty good USP! I wonder how long it took for this ad to be pulled?