Early last year, renowned legal scholar Cass Sunstein published an essay titled How Star Wars Explains Constitutional Law. I came across it through The Washington Post, but the piece was originally posted to a website called The New Rambler, which seems more appropriate — given that Cass managed to hold forth on the topic for over 4,500 words. This post will not carry on for nearly as long.
Late night TV hosts sometimes understandably like to make sure their viewers are still awake. John Oliver, for instance, delights in mislabeling his maps just to keep you on your toes:
The story of Starbucks’ betrayal of the city of Seattle has been thoroughly rehearsed. And since it had been some time since that series of unfortunate events, Microsoft decided to remind Seattle it too can act with callous disregard of local sports icons.
Now, I like Microsoft. I use/am a PC. I have a Windows Phone. Which is how I came across this upsetting discovery:
I’ve repeatedly picked on Facebook, and partner-in-crime Bing, for their repeated failure to translate the most basic elements of Hebrew (e.g. holidays, numerals, slam dunk transliteration, negatives, religious figures, and proper names) into English. But after I posted that last example, a friend sent me another, and forced me to alter the usual narrative. Here’s her damning screenshot: Continue reading Giving Facebook some credit where it’s due
I’ll keep this post brief because it’s almost 4AM and this isn’t so important in the grand scheme of things.
I’m writing to present the latest failure of Facebook and Bing’s effort to facilitate mutual understanding across language barriers. Here’s one reaction to Bibi’s reelection, shared via Facebook comment:
Back when I spent several months in Nepal with a bunch of Israelis, I wrote a post poking fun at said Israelis for not knowing the difference between Halloween and Christmas. I now understand that this was wrong. It is unreasonable to expect people to accurately tell holidays apart when they are celebrated primarily on the other side of the world. I know this because, well, check out the latest example of poor translation, courtesy of Facebook (but really Bing; click to embiggen):
I asked Cortana (that would be both the Halo Artificial Intelligence and Siri for Windows Phone) for some help locating the latest* incarnation of the New York Times’ 36 Hours in Seattle. She came back with some very bad news:
Local search engine Bing hosts a rotating cast of photographs, which I happen to see every day because they are featured on the search screen of my Windows Phone. The photos always feature embedded hints and teasers meant to encourage visitors to click through and google more using Bing.
I last took special note of the home page this past Mother’s Day. The photograph caught my eye today because it looked quite familiar:
This blog has thoroughly rehearsed the inability of Facebook (in partnership with Bing) to faithfully render Hebrew into English. I was skeptical the standard set by Bing’s engine could ever be topped. Until, that is, I read “A Prayer for Bibi“, published this morning by the Times of Israel:
I’ve given Facebook and Bing a hard time in the past for their inability to translate anything — indeed, as recently as just this past week — or, at least, translate anything from Hebrew. I can’t speak to their translations into English from all the languages I don’t speak, but I imagine they do a similarly terrible job.
So I’ll consider that ground already covered like Kenji Yoshino — this post exists only to document another instance where their combined futility makes for epic failure. Never trust translations you read on Facebook.
The status in question was posted on the Facebook profile of Tomer Persico, a lecturer at the department for Comparative Religion in Tel-Aviv University (here’s his blog). I’ve never heard of him, but he has nearly 6,000 followers on Facebook, so he’s clearly kind of a big deal in certain circles — and one of them brought the following to my attention: