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.”
a friend showed me this google translation that translates “so sad to see hong kong become a part of china” as “happy” （高興）in chinese pic.twitter.com/85Yl1n3KOQ— isabella steger (@stegersaurus) June 14, 2019
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.
also happens with taiwan pic.twitter.com/BeXfOfRhvR— isabella steger (@stegersaurus) June 14, 2019
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 translate tweaks its language models based on user feedback. So if several users used the 'suggest a better translation' feedback option, they may have tipped the balance for those specific phrases. Happy to be part of China... where dictionary definitions are inverted.— Mart van de Ven (@tijptjik) June 14, 2019
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."