‘G’ is for Google Translate

I came across the following email that one of my Korean ESL (English as a second language) students sent me a couple of years ago. I’m no detective but I am going to go ahead and assume that she used the services of Google Translate.

(Normally I would not share something that a student wrote but I think that this particular letter is safe to show without revealing any of her feelings, or meaning in general.)

Reel teacher!

It is a presentation car. It is not small it puts out and total it is strong? I am putting out am not small by all means. It reads the recent following book frequently. Holds also the lost chance Ilg Uss nine bedspread.

The now reads red head Aen, ^. There is a library in the school and a possibility of borrowing there is. Report it wanted and. the reel Republic of Ghana it came plentifully fun it was, to my dream and ^! .

The eagle the difficult portion translate. The toe of Germany khyo as the hotel knows? lwu The urban recent toe khyo it likes the member who is Bill of the hotel very. Search try in the once Internet And I like the player who is five copper of Japan.

Be good and be good and learn to know the thing, it became.

Oh! There is a motion picture which it wants recommending. Of sound myu Jig truth in good motion picture bedspread. In the degr! ee where I will be impressed the bedspread ^.

The letter is long too much but gain and loss do as a favor. The bedspread where the end which it wants doing helps Manh Ass too much; . Reel! I a plentifully is good day from the school. It was like that and I one bitter cold was sad very.

But now it reads the book it appears to be improving. Hu Oh khim the place gun it will buy and with El len the singer to roll up it will carry on shoulder and with to read a talk me when Hus Doe lived, the thought listened to a life.

Cries from before the like that the next absoluteness different person Naha which the fool same act inside percentage well! the bedspread.

Absolutely! I am collecting the money now. It collects even in the bankbook and it collects even in the piggy bank. It collects and next year it is but cotton 600000 playing tour it is gone round and it appears.

Finally also the mail sweeping bedspread ^ reply to send ~ report it will want certainly, well! the bedspread. The presentation car it raises.

This is probably how I sounded when trying to speak Korean. Anyone have any funny lost in translation moments to share? Any Google Translate disasters?


9 responses to “‘G’ is for Google Translate

  1. This recalls an English language e-mail that I once received from a Thai friend; it was an incomprehensible word salad, and when I asked her she admitted to having used Google translate.

    Just try using Google translate to try to understand any Thai language website — or, for that matter, I would suspect anything in any language that is sufficiently “distant” from English (i.e., Chinese, not Spanish).

    But in a way, it’s kind of cool. There are lines which have a surrealist-poetry ring to them (“Cries from before the like that the next absoluteness different person”), that sound aphoristic (“The letter is long too much but gain and loss do as a favor,” “Be good and be good and learn to know the thing”), and tenderly poignant (“Holds also the lost chance….”).

    A room of 24 monkeys sitting at their desks with typewriters, or new vistas for literature?


    • I know; it’s like a new genre: Unintentional translation poetry. I love the line: “Be good and be good and learn to know the thing.” There are so many words that can mean multiple things, plus the sayings and phrases and slang…poor Google Translate doesn’t stand a chance of working all that out. I find it really interesting; it makes us take a second look at our language and how we word things.


  2. Too funny! When I was in high-school I went on holiday to Mexico with my family and exchanged MSN messenger details with a couple locals I’d befriended. Then I returned home and relied on Google Translate to try and communicate. Needless to say the conversations didn’t really work. At least we all understood the emoticons 🙂


    • Haha, yeah some things need more explanation than Google Translate can provide, especially if the people you are taking to are using slang or local expressions. As they would say in Mexico: “Está canijo”…(which means: “It’s complicated”. If I type it into Google Translate it comes out as : is puny.


    • I find it very useful too. Its great for translating words and phrases. It is only when whole texts (also depending on the language) are copied and pasted that the meaning gets a little distorted! Lots of expressions and idioms just can’t be literally translated. I have have some students hand in some pretty funny homework assignments.


  3. I have to admit that living in Germany, and over the years, visiting a variety of countries on mainland Europe, I never had an issue. I would learn the basics.
    When my service life was over and I returned to the UK, my greatest difficulty was trying to understand some of the local dialects in my own country – now that is embarrassing.


    • As an English as a foreign language teacher I have gotten pretty good at understanding accents from all over the place and am fluent in broken English. For some reason though, it took me ages to be able to understand Aussies and Scots. After the third…’sorry, what??’ when you are speaking the same language it gets awkward haha.


  4. I have recently read books that were supposedly professionally done that were as difficult to read. I told my husband that one particular book was like the person put their text into Google Translate, took it out and threw it against the wall, and published it the way it stuck to the wall.

    Of course, there are those with English as their native tongue that don’t do much better sometimes!

    Have a great evening!


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