So here's the deal: People have just realised that Google Translate somehow detects absolute gibberish as Somali.
(And while I'm here, as a point of note, "Somali" is the correct term for the language spoken by people from Somalia. It is not, and never was, and never shall be "Somalian". Somali people speak Somali.)
Anyway, people who speak Somali are really confused that if you type "ooga booga wooga" into Google Translate it "detects" it as Somali and claims the translation is "it is widespread". Yes, widespread BS.
And if you type in "ooga booga", you get another absolutely nonsensical translation: "to the wound".
People are actually done.
Things get even more sinister. If you type in the N-word as a Somali word, you could get some very inaccurate English translations.
The N-word translation has been removed now, but if you take out a "g" it still brings up a random translation.
In case you're wondering what unfortunate set of events led to people realising this about the N-word, it appears that a 4chan forum discovered this in 2014. It was around the time Google launched a "community" site for its translation tool which allows people to offer their own translations. 👀
On Friday, BuzzFeed News used the translation service and this is what happened:
That translation no longer appears, but some others still do.
But if you flip it, and translate English words into Somali, you get an entirely different translation:
Some other words, such as the Somali words for "aunt" and "grandad", don't translate correctly either.
People have been questioning the translations.
And have asked Google to hire them so they can sort this mess out.
A spokesperson for Google told BuzzFeed News that "inappropriate" translations can be reported.
They said: "When Google Translate generates a translation, it uses patterns from millions of translations to help decide on the best translation for you.
"We’re constantly working to improve the quality of our translations, and if people come across incorrect or inappropriate translations, they can report the issue and we’ll be happy to fix them.”
BuzzFeed News understands that Google Translate works by looking for any language that the words entered may sound like and then proceeds to guess the term.
And in situations when it doesn't understand the word, for instance if it's a typo or a rare word, it attempts to produce a suitable translation to would fill the gap.
Since this article was published, the translation has been changed.
Ikran is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
Contact Ikran Dahir at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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