back to article No yolking matter: Google Translate cock-up gives Norwegians more than un œuf eggs

A group of Norwegian chefs blames Google Translate after the applications improperly ordered 1500 eggs to 15.000. The incident occurred a few days ago at the Olympic Village in Pyeongchang, where the chefs had been keen to cook for Norway's 109 Olympic athletes. The Winter Games are a big deal in Norway, a country of 5.23 …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    That's eggactly why you should always use more than one translation service, it's best not to put your eggs in one basket.

    1. Oengus Silver badge

      In this case that would be one heck of a basket...

    2. big_D Silver badge

      That is why you should use a real translator and not an electronic service...

      Google Translate has tried to kill me on a few occasions. Luckily I knew both the source and target languages well enough to know it was bs'ing me.

      Do not open the case, high voltage inside -> Das Gehäuse öffnen, Starkstrom drinnen -> Open the case, high voltage inside.

      I managed to give it the proper translation before it killed somebody else...

      Funnier was :

      Do not open the case, no user serviceable parts inside -> Das Gehäuse öffnen, nichts drin -> Do not open the case, nothing inside.

      1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

        Interesting, just tried "Do not open the case, high voltage inside" and got "Öffnen Sie das Gehäuse nicht, Hochspannung drinnen"

        Maybe it's learning...?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "Maybe it's learning...?"

          Google Translate often offers different translations for the same words. If you are lucky it offers them as alternatives at the same time. However it can be frustrating to see it offer a wrong or no translation for the same words it got right a few minutes earlier.

        2. big_D Silver badge

          @Pen-y-gors as I said, I did take the time to give it the proper translations...

          I was in a hurry and needed to translate a complete user manual into German (20 pages) in 2 hours, so I though maybe GT could help, but after I stopped laughing, I translated it by hand and told my boss he would just have to wait until the next day.

          1. Korev Silver badge
            Coat

            Do you have any eggsamples of where things weren't quite white?

            1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

              "Do you have any eggsamples of where things weren't quite white?"

              He's probably too yellow to take up the challenge.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "Luckily I knew both the source and target languages well enough to know it was bs'ing me."

        Google Translate does tend to drop words or replace a word with a duplicate of a nearby one. Worst of all is when it misses a negative indicator.

        My best mistranslation is -

        Allehelgenskonsert - which Google automatically detects as "Frisian" language = "Privacy statement".

        When told it is Norwegian it comes up with a more obviously sensible "Halloween Concert" - except the Norwegian word has no "evening" component in it - it is literally "All Saints Concert".

        Given the context of a Cathedral choir my guess is that it should be "All Saints Day Concert" - making it one day out - and an interesting confusion of beliefs.

    3. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Obviously, the yolk is on us.

  2. redpawn Silver badge

    Only One Order of Magnitude Difference

    or to put it simply, one egg.

    1. Tiggrrr42

      OK, I'll bite

      Surely that's un ouef?

  3. Brenda McViking
    Coat

    Good eggineering tolerances

    Managing to return 13 and a half eggs accurate to 3 decimal places is a fantastic achievement which demonstrates the lengths these people will go to in order to avoid getting egg on their face!

    1. thosrtanner

      Re: Good eggineering tolerances

      Eggsactly

  4. ratfox Silver badge
    Boffin

    Typical confusion when dealing with CJK languages. They group decimals by four instead of three. They have a word for ten thousand, and 15 thousand would be that, and a half...

    1. big_D Silver badge

      Google Translate still has a lot of problems with European languages. I wouldn't trust is as far as I could through the Mountain View HQ.

      1. Elmer Phud Silver badge

        "I wouldn't trust is as far as I could through the Mountain View HQ."

        I'd trust their spillchucker, though.

    2. Bob Wheeler

      I wonder if it mat have something to do with the symbol used as a thousand separator.

      In the UK we use the comma ',' - while in other parts of Europe they use the full stop '.'

      Just a thought.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Google did not respond to a request for comment.

    Maybe you need to egg them on?

    1. vir

      "Google did not respond to a request for comment."

      The same in any language.

    2. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Maybe whip them until frothy?

  6. Steve K Silver badge

    Photo

    That Twitter photo is one for the albumen?

    Lucky that they saw the sunny side of it.

    I’m here all week - is that your chicken, madam?

    1. Elmer Phud Silver badge

      Re: Photo

      This is no yolking matter!

      He almost had to shell out on the deal.

      That's the trouble these days, everything viewed from the perspective of whites.

      Crafty gits will have you done ova in a second!

  7. MacroRodent Silver badge

    Translating a number?

    I wonder how that came across. One would assume the chefs wrote 1500 instead of its equivalent as Norvegian words. In a little experiment of translating the egg order from Finnish to Korean, Google seemed to leave that number and variants like 1 500 alone. Hmm, maybe the chefs made the blunder themselves in the original text, and are now blaming Google...

    1. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Translating a number?

      Would NorVegians eat eggs though?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Translating a number?

      Google translate often omits numbers written as digits.

      1. psychonaut

        Re: Translating a number?

        Who needs Google?

        F U N E X?

        S V F 15000 X

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h-mX9T2qyIQ

        quality

  8. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    Things have moved on a lot.

    OK, the language of the article is a bit odd, but basically understandable, and that's after going both ways.

    Google Translate is surprisingly good - not perfect, but useable. If you know that your text will be machine-translated the trick is to use short unambiguous phrases in the original.

    I often need to do English->Welsh translations and Google is an excellent starting point. It needs tweaking by a human, but it saves a lot of time.

    1. Martin an gof Silver badge

      Re: Things have moved on a lot.

      Things have moved on a lot.

      Okay, the language of the article is a bit odd, but it's basically understandable, and that's going on both ways.

      Google Translate is a surprise - it's not perfect, but useful. If you know that your text will be translated on a machine, the trick is to use short uncertain phrases in the original.

      Often, I need to do English-> Welsh translations and Google is an excellent starting point. It needs human beings, but it saves a lot of time.

      Heb fod yn ddrwg - Saesneg -> Cymraeg -> Saesneg, heb law am "short uncertain phrases"!

      :-)

      M.

  9. Dan 55 Silver badge
    Trollface

    Can't say I noticed anything out of the ordinary for a Reg article

    Note: this story was translated from English to Norwegian with Google Translate. Then translated again from Norwegian to English with Bing Translate. Because why not? ®

    1. Elmer Phud Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Can't say I noticed anything out of the ordinary for a Reg article

      Oh, such fun.

      Translate often used when commentards start whining about 'use proper English' --which usually gets turned in to a shiny Polish lure and dropped back in the water . . .

      If they reply then the game is on -- random and mixed translation.

    2. DropBear Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Can't say I noticed anything out of the ordinary for a Reg article

      Oh great. So basically we'll never know whether the real story was about 15000 eggs being delivered instead of 1500 or 1500 instead of 15000 - there's no telling when any of the numbers involved were borked again...

  10. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    A clucking good story.

    Says the ASAC with a couple of cacklefruit generator units on his freeholding.

  11. DailyLlama

    How?

    Does it mistranslate 1500 to 15000? Are numbers different or something?

  12. tiggity Silver badge

    lost in translation

    With huge irony the story had this line:

    "1500 eggs to 15.000."

    Plenty of people (e.g. in UK( would read the second number as 15 (with pointless zeroes after) - after all you placed a ******** decimal point in there.

    To avoid confusion with numbers do not use "separators" just write the full number (commas are bad enough but using a decimal point is deranged as begging to be misinterpreted)

    1. ShadowDragon8685

      Re: lost in translation

      Yankee here - we too use the comma to separate every three powers-of-ten, and I would not have provided fifteen (15) eggs.

      I mean, it would have buggered me royally if we were discussing chemistry equations and I'd be freaking out about how I needed to be precisely on-the-dot to three sig-figs, but regarding whole food products, not even an obsessive calorie-counting gram-watcher like myself is going to measure eggs past, say, two sig figs at the most ("Okay, I had one hard-boiled egg at lunch in my salad and my aunt gave me about two-thirds of hers, so I'll plug 1.66 hard-boiled eggs into MFP,) and the sig-figs being zeroes would also be a "hold up and reread this carefully, you're missing something!" flag, leading me to realize it was in silly euro-notation.

      That having been said, yeah, the way some writing systems use periods to separate hundreds and thousands is asinine.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: lost in translation

        That having been said, yeah, the way some writing systems use periods to separate hundreds and thousands is asinine."

        But they also use a comma as a decimal separator, so how is that more asinine than driving on the wrong side of the road instead of the left like wot is the proper way?

    2. Martin an gof Silver badge

      Re: lost in translation

      To avoid confusion with numbers do not use "separators" just write the full number (commas are bad enough but using a decimal point is deranged as begging to be misinterpreted)

      Commas make the number far, far easier to read for your average human, if not for a machine. Also note that to be pedantic, "." is not a decimal point, for that you really should use "·" like wot yer teachers taught you to write by hand at school.

      3·141592

      I did once see an accounting calculator that used apostrophes for separators:

      1'234'567.890

      M.

      1. Carpet Deal 'em

        Re: lost in translation

        I've seen calculators that do the apostrophe thing, too. I think it's meant to make them more visible, since otherwise they'd be right where your hand is and the light is the least.

        Also, when and where were you in school? Your post is the very first time I've seen someone claim the period isn't the decimal point.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: lost in translation

          "Also, when and where were you in school? Your post is the very first time I've seen someone claim the period isn't the decimal point."

          In my case, as per my other reply, 40 years ago. And he's right. I was using computers at school then (and forever after too), and ASCII, AFAIK, didn't have a decimal point (or many other less used characters) so you made do with what you had. (Likewise EBCDIC and other character sets in use at the time). eg the single and double quote symbols used as both the 66 & 99 or 6 & 9 proper quote marks, not to mention the various accent etc marks used in non-english languages. If you grew up with GUIs, you may not be aware of some of the conventions forced on us by character set limitations (in text mode only days, characters were often defined by a ROM chip containing the character map). Using the full stop as a decimal point became so ingrained in technology by restricted computer char. sets that it carried over in pretty much all digital representations of decimal numbers such as calculators, cash register displays etc.

          Back when I first started teaching IT, nearly 40 years ago, it was on 8-bit computers and we still taught generic office skills such as typing. The typing teacher used to teach the students hit the superscript key and full stop for a decimal point. I only just remembered that as I was typing the above. (they were relatively modern electric typewriters)

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: lost in translation

        "3·141592"

        It was so long ago, I'd completely forgotten that! It's 40 years since I did maths at school and have been using computers just as long so have been using the full stop for a decimal point ever since. It actually looks quite odd to see it printed with a proper decimal point after all this time. Thanks for the memory!

  13. Alistair Silver badge
    Windows

    In the same vein as the article.

    I think it is interesting that one can order bulk translation functions while offering professional services in a foreign country, and then rinse the translator for Bulkfeil in the translation.

  14. Kubla Cant Silver badge

    There used to be a Swedish chef on TV who was very hard to understand. If Norwegian chefs are similar, I'm not surprised the translation went awry.

    1. James O'Shea Silver badge

      You have dared to compare Norwegians to Swedes. Hell waits for thee, as soon as the Norwegians can find their war axes and the Swedes can stop laughing.

  15. onefang Silver badge

    Please stop! I'm alleggic to these puns, they are scrambling my brain.

  16. Delbert Grady

    Python-esque

    ' My Hovercraft is full of Eels '

  17. J P

    For to curry a horse

    I can't remember many of the details of the Portuguese author's handy Russian:English phrasebook which had run through a couple of intermediate languages as the perpetrator didn't possess a direct Russian/English dictionary - but the one which has always stuck in my mind is the rendition of "Out of sight, out of mind":

    Invisible idiot.

    (Pretty sure it's in Stephen Pile's seminal Book of Heroic Failures)

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