Sun, Sep 16, 2012 - Page 3 News List

Google seems to be lost in translation, some netizens say

By Wang Pei-hua and Jake Chung  /  Staff Reporter, with Staff Writer

If one types the sentence “Taiwan is not a part of China” in English into the translation tool of search engine Google, the translation returned in Chinese reads: “Taiwan is part of China.”

The mistranslation has prompted netizens to debate whether Google Inc has been hacked by China.

Internet users discovered that the Web site yields the same Chinese translation regardless of whether the English sentence states Taiwan is or is not a part of China.

Other netizens then found that the erroneous translation is limited to results returned in simplified and traditional Chinese characters.

Typing the same phrase in English and the French or German translation tool yields a correct translation.

Web users added that if one entered the phrase “Taiwan is not a part of the People’s Republic of China” in English, Google’s translation service translates the sentence faithfully into its Chinese-language equivalent.

Netizens decided to further test out the phrase in English and used various other countries in the sentence pattern, including: “The US is not a part of China” and “South Korea is not a part of China,” with both translated results stating that the US and South Korea were a part of China.

When technology blog TechOrange learned of the issues, it posted a response stating: “I thought that the entire world was South Korea’s. Can it be a communist plot?”

TechOrange’s comments referred to net-based articles that surfaced in 2006 in which it was claimed that Confucius (孔子) and other renowned Chinese thinkers actually had South Korean heritage. The articles circulated at the time have mostly been proven to be fake.

Meanwhile, Google’s branch in Taiwan said in response to the matter that it was most likely being caused by an error in the logarithms which generate the translations.

Pointing out that the translation Web site does not have staff personally overseeing the translation services it offers, Google asked netizens to click on the “send feedback” button to alert the company of the errors they had identified.

Once enough people file complaints about the problem, the company would address the issue, the branch said.

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