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Skype Translator Likes to Swear in Chinese

Illustration for article titled Skype Translator Likes to Swear in Chinese

Skype Translator is an amazing feat of engineering, even if it isn’t perfect. But reports suggest that, in Chinese at least, it has somewhat of a potty mouth.

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Tom Carter writes for Global Times that he’s been using Skype Translator whilst on a shoot in China to make a cross-lingual TV commercial. But some of the results haven’t exactly been what he expected. He explains:

A glitch in the beta software misinterpreted the words I spoke. “It’s nice to talk to you” was translated as “It’s f*cking nice to f*ck you,” and other synthesized profanity, like the icebox robot in 1970’s sci-fi flick Logan’s Run, but with Tourette Syndrome.

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Carter lays the blame at the feet of the The Great Firewall, which he claims “obstructs the Skype system from working consistently.” Which it could be—or it could just be internal bugs that can’t cope with the voices they’re attempting to translate. Either way, it seems Skype’s AI translation has a way to go before it’s used as a diplomatic tool.

[Global Times via Network World]

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DISCUSSION

synthozoic
synthozoic

Tom Scott has a pretty good video about why machine translation shall continue to be hard.

But basically it boils down the fact that even well experienced human translators have a hard time with translating nuances between languages.