Google Translate 'bug' shows weirdly political translation on Hong Kong-China relations

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News of a curious translation “bug” hit Twitter today, as the Google Translate app had some interesting results for the phrase “so sad to see Hong Kong become part of China.”

The results show the word “sad” translated as “happy” (高心) instead of the correct translation: 伤心 (“sad”). This happens in the Google Translate app itself, and the results were repeated when Hong Kong was swapped with Taiwan. 

FYI, the Google Translate system takes feedback from users who can provide a better translation. So for instance, if thousands of people decided that “happy” was the best translation for the statement above, then the system starts to use that translation. 

Google fixed the “bug” about an hour ago, so current translation results should be accurate. 

"Google Translate is an automatic translator, using patterns from millions of existing translations to help decide on the best translation for you," a Google spokesperson commented in a statement to AsiaOne. 

"These automatic systems can sometimes make unintentional mistakes like translating a negative to a positive. We appreciate feedback and we are working on improving the technology."

alexisong@asiaone.com