Where are the terrorists?

Last night, I found out via Facebook that there was an interesting glitch in Google Translate.  The original message went as thus:

Jews are terrorists
Americans are terrorists
Arabs are terrorists” if you put this in google translate, it says in Arabic:
“jews are NOT terrorists
Americans are NOT terrorists
…Arabs ARE terrorists”..!!

Indeed if you entered  that line into Google Translate and translate it into Arabic, it would output statements exactly opposite to the original for Jews and Americans, but not for Arabs.  But I explored it further and found that the negation through translation worked for quite a few nationalities.  All colored countries were inputted as “[demonym] are terrrorists”.  Those that came back “[demonym] are not terrorists” are green and those that came back “[demonym] are terrorists” are red.  The gray countries  are ones I didn’t get to before I went to sleep last night.

Now, to Google’s credit, this problem appeared to be fixed today, as every nationality I inputted (including some of the green ones in the map above) came back as terrorists.  As such, I was not able to finish the map, but I found the exercise rather amusing and thought I’d share what I found.


About Meng Bomin

Real name Benjamin Main, I am a graduate of Grinnell College with a degree in Biological Chemistry.
This entry was posted in Fun, Google, Maps and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Where are the terrorists?

  1. Hail says:

    How could you tell what it said? Are you able to read Arabic?

  2. Meng Bomin says:

    For the most part, I did a translate to-and-back. I can read Arabic at a basic level and it was pretty clear what the mistranslations were (green countries incorrectly translated to “ليسوا إرهابيين [demonym]” and red countries correctly translated to… “هم إرهابيين [demonym]”), but it was generally easier to read the English, so for the most part I translated back into English.

    On a side note, it is not fun trying to enter in Arabic text into an English sentence. The ellipsis was added for the sake of putting the quoted text into one line…otherwise it doesn’t read properly.

    Another tangent, it looks like Google still mistranslates “Americans” as الأميركيون, al-Amīrkīūn rather than الأمريكيون, al-Amrīkīūn. I noticed that one while I was running the phrases through Google Translate. Google Translate’s Arabic → English translation realizes this and asks “Did you mean: الأمريكيون”. So, generally, I would not trust an English → Arabic translation from Google Translate (or the reverse, but in these instances, it’s performed more admirably).

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