A while ago, Facebook added the ability to translate statuses and comments in foreign languages. Now, this definitely seems like a great idea in theory — you can make friends with people from all around the world and even if you don’t speak the same language as them, you’ll still be able to know what they’re saying on Facebook!
Unfortunately, online translations suck. We’ve covered before how online translators work, and why they’re notoriously awful; we’ve also seen how they can backfire if you don’t know what you’re doing.
So pretty much without exception, every Facebook translation I’ve seen of something in Japanese has been wrong. Or at least weird. It’s not really Facebook’s fault that machine translations are bad, but it’s their fault for implementing it and thinking it would work out.
I gathered up a bunch of translations from Japanese-speaking friends on Facebook that I thought were weird and funny. I apologize in advance to all of my Facebook friends for plundering their statuses, but I’ve blacked out their names for the sake of anonymity.
This translation isn’t actually all that awful, but for some reason Facebook thought it was necessary to translate the emoticon. I assume that “⌒” is some sort of mathematical or scientific symbol for “without,” but I’m not quite sure why Facebook translates it along with the Japanese.
One of my Facebook friends took a picture of an airplane with a bunch of Pokemon painted on it, and here were the comments:
The translation should look something like:
“It almost looks like a plane version of those cars painted with anime characters, haha”
But instead, Facebook translates it to:
“If you mistake one step’s flight based on versions of “itasha” w”
You can almost understand the meaning of the Facebook translation, but it still doesn’t make any sense.
Here’s a pretty straightforward interaction: somebody wishing another person a happy birthday. Here’s how it should be translated:
“Happy birthday! I haven’t seen you in a while, how’s your husband?”
Simple enough, but Facebook sees it as:
“Congratulations on your birthday and! I have not seen for some time, well my husband are you?”
The sentiment is there, but the grammar is f#@%ed.
Here, one of my Facebook friends is talking about how fast his new phone is.
It should be something like:
LTE feels about twice as fast as 3G . . . and on an iPhone 5, haha
But instead comes out as:
3 G LTE is more about twice about 7Mbps early. And from the iPhone5 w.
But I probably get the most joy out of when Facebook tries to translate emoticons, like on our status a few weeks ago about emoticons/emoji/kaomoji:
What’s really bizarre is when Facebook decides to translate the kaomoji, but not the actual Japanese.
Have you seen really bad Facebook translations before? Screencap and share ‘em with us in the comments!
Header photo by Robert Scoble