Accurate translation is imperative when dealing with cross-border communications of any nature – if only to avoid embarrassment. And if anyone has been relying on Google Translate’s Mongolian service recently, the chances are that embarrassment – if not outright horror and confusion – will have been at the forefront of every exchange.

Translation software is getting smarter all the time. But if we rely on services like Google Translate too often, it increasingly seems as if an eventual embarrassing error is not only a risk, but an inevitable outcome.

Technology will always be imperfect when it comes to something as nuanced as language and translation. Just last year, we reported how Google Translate had transcribed the surname of Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to “sad little horse”.

Now, Google Translate is at it again – this time with its Mongolian service.

As reported in The Diplomat, the service has been recognising what can only be described as gobbledegook as legitimate sentences and translating them into English.

For example:

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The actual Mongolian translation of the sentence “Thanks for your help” is “tusalsand bayarlalaa”. And the transliteration of the above scribble, written using the Cyrillic alphabet, would be “oooooooosdfsdfyayayasheyasheyasheyaooooooooo”. Gobbledegook indeed.

But, The Diplomat journalist decided to test Google Translate’s Mongolian service even further – and was presented with some quite startling results. Brace yourself…

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We always thought the collective noun for “sheds” was “a load” – or rather “a shed-load” – but what do we know?

It gets worse, though…

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It’s never a good day to go to bed with a squirrel.

One more…

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Actually, we think it was the squirrel doing the whispering – and we’ve already got a shed-load of sheds. But, thank you for the whirlwind. Too kind.

Mongolian is a beautiful, ancient language – but it seems that if we continue to depend entirely on machines for a translation, who knows where we’ll end up?

At Magna Carta Translation, we have decades of experience offering translation services to legal and financial firms all over the globe. If you want to make sure your message is translated with absolute accuracy, get in touch with us today.