Monthly Archives: February 2011

Ask Google Translate “Who are the Terrorists?”

If you used Google translate to translate from English to Arabic or vice versa you know how bad the translation is, especially when you translate an entire paragraph or article. Google translate might be good to translate a word or a phrase but for more than that don’t expect much.  It seems Google translator caught Arabs attention these days because of a translation it made when asked to translate the following:

  • Jews are terrorists
  • Americans are terrorists
  • Arabs are terrorists

Google translation in Arabic is:

image[Click on picture]

Now, for not Arabic speakers the Arabic translation is as following:

  • Jews are not terrorists
  • Americans are not terrorists
  • Arabs are terrorists

I got to say that was suspicious at first, where the word “not” came from. So before Arabs boycott Google I tried a test to translate based on religion, nationality, and ethnicity:

image[Click on picture]

As you can see from the picture above, Google added the word “ليسوا” which means “not” when translated Jews/Christians/Muslims are terrorists. The same thing happened when translating “Americans are terrorists” but it didn’t consider French not to be terrorists. The last two lines Google translate added the word “ليسوا” (not) for Syrians but not for Jordanians.

When I tried to reverse the translation for the first picture, the translation was correct. See picture below.

image[Click on picture]

So apparently, there is a bug in Google translate. Google is not trying to take a side with Israel or the Jews against Arabs. Or are they? What would be interesting is to try to translate the same statements from English to another language beside Arabic and see what you get.

Computer language translation is one of those very complicated research area called Natural Language Processing (NLP). One comment I read about the cause of this problem is something called “rules for negations” in some languages. But I don’t know NLP and I don’t know Google translate’s algorithm but I am sure there is no conspiracy theory here.

Update: It seems the translation problem does not exist any more.

Update: This post is mentioned in

Midwest Blizzard 2011

So sad what is happening in Egypt. It is a shame to see All Arab leaders chose to keep quite and do or even say nothing. I have nothing more to say, for now.

Just to put our minds at ease for a minute watch this video of the Midwest snow storm. My university cancelled all classes for three days in a row because of the snow, the first time in the university’s history. The video is a collection of clips from the Midwest and the pictures I took today morning.



[Click picture to play video on CNN page]



[Click picture to enlarge]