Russian goes free thanks to Google translation error

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A Russian trucker in Dordrecht involved in a bar brawl was released because the summons he received was poorly translated from Dutch into Russian using Google translate. When the trucker was being questioned at the police station, he had a Russian interpreter and claimed to have understood what he had to do, although he never signed the summons.

The Russian interpreter showed up in court, but not the trucker. She was asked to then translate what was written in the summons. Instead of (here I am translating this from Dutch) ‘you are to appear in court on 3 August 2010’, it went more like ‘you have to avoid being in court on 3 August 2010’. In Dutch, ‘vóórkomen’, with the stress on the first syllable, means ‘to appear’, while ‘voorkómen’ means ‘to prevent’.

With Google translate, the Dutch infinitive verb ‘voorkomen’ (no way to indicate which of the two identically spelled verbs you want translated) still today produced the infinitive verb ‘to prevent’ ‘предотвращать’ (imperfective aspect) and not even a hint of the perfective aspect of the same verb, ‘предотвратить’. In any decent dictionary both aspects are given so people can use the right one.

In Russian, if you pronouce the perfective verb ‘to write’ ‘написать’ with the wrong stress, you’re pissing instead of writing, so yes, stress matters.

(Link: depers.nl)

5 Comments »

  1. […] 2. Russian goes free thanks to Google translation error […]

    Pingback by 24 oranges » 24oranges celebrates Russia -The Netherlands 2013 — March 15, 2013 @ 12:00 pm

  2. […] [i] 24 Oranges Blog. “Russian goes free thanks to Google translation error,” Blog entry by Orangemaster,  August 18, 2010.  http://www.24oranges.nl/2010/08/18/russian-goes-free-thanks-to-google-translation-error/ […]

    Pingback by The high price of free translation | Interpretips — April 4, 2013 @ 5:11 am

  3. […] [i] 24 Oranges Blog. “Russian goes free thanks to Google translation error,” Blog entry by Orangemaster,  August 18, 2010.  http://www.24oranges.nl/2010/08/18/russian-goes-free-thanks-to-google-translation-error/ […]

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  4. […] worked out just fine for a Russian man, who was released after the summons he received were poorly translated from Dutch into Russian using Google Translate. Instead of “you are to appear in court on 3 August 2010,” as it should […]

    Pingback by Translation Pitfalls, Advice, and Other Things to Consider - River Linguistics Inc. — February 12, 2015 @ 7:07 pm

  5. […] worked out just fine for a Russian man, who was released after the summons he received were poorly translated from Dutch into Russian using Google Translate. Instead of “you are to appear in court on 3 August 2010,” as it should […]

    Pingback by Translation Pitfalls, Advice, and Other Things to Consider | River Linguistics Inc. — March 5, 2015 @ 8:40 pm

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