Google bug causes 'Russian Federation' to translate into 'Mordor'

Google Translate's Ukrainian to Russian tool switched Russians with "occupiers," and the name of Russia's foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, with "sad little horse."
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov's last name, if translated from Ukrainian to Russian, comes out as "sad little horse." (Max Rossi/Reuters)

Ukrainians have noticed Google translating "Russian Federation" from Ukrainian into the Russian word for "Mordor," among other questionable translations.  

Google Translate's Ukrainian to Russian tool switched Russians with "occupiers," and the name of Russia's foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, with "sad little horse."

Ukrainian media, like the TV channel 112 Ukraine, discovered the translations this week, along with people on the Russian social network, VKontakte

(Vadim Nakhankov/VKontakte)

Mordor is not an accurate translation for Russia, because Mordor is an ashen volcanic wasteland ruled by Sauron, the villain of the Lord of the Rings book series by J.R. Tolkien.

Google told the BBC that Google Translate functions by analysing patterns in online text, but can't discern for context.

"This means that not all translations are perfect, and there will sometimes be mistakes or mistranslations," Google said in a statement to the BBC.

So when Ukrainians began to use similar language to describe Russia following its 2014 annexation of the Crimean peninsula, Google Translate picked up these errors automatically. 

Google told multiple outletsthat the bug has since been fixed. 


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