When something goes awry in Google Translate.

When you go to a website in the Faroe Islands, it’s not in English, and something goes awry in Google Translate. Here’s a sample:

Since it was web-domain and tech-related, I’m fairly sure this is NOT the correct translation, though I enjoyed imagining how “fee slag” and “move the ecstasy” could be played with in English… 🙂

Anyway, since I believe Denmark “owns” the Faroe Islands, and the language looked like Danish to my eyes (after working with Danes for 20+ years), I copied and pasted, and stared at the strange results. Unable to decipher it properly, Google Translate (aka “GT”) led me on a merry chase, a loony loop of languages, yielding only a few recognizable English words and phrases, after toggling feverishly from “auto-detect” and manual language selection!

Much to my amazement and amusement, the translator struggled with phrases, and identified individual words as coming from one of five languages, NOT including Danish, as follows:

  • Afrikaans
  • Greek
  • Icelandic
  • Norwegian
  • Welsh

Icelandic and Norwegian made some sense as both Nordic languages, and related to Danish, though some Icelanders and Norwegians I know might take affront to my saying that. Afrikaans? That’s a bit of a stretch—in both distance (in miles/km), and language structure—not even Dutch, which is geographically nearer! Greek or Welsh? Those two made me LOL, though we all know the UK and its environs were overrun by Vikings long ago, mostly Danish and Norwegian, including Wales. Did the Vikings make it to Greece? I don’t think so…

Finally, I was able to cobble together enough fragments of English words and phrases, filtered through the website’s purpose, and a wee bit of contextual guessing, I was able to navigate and do what I had gone there to do.

Here’s what I THOUGHT some of the column heading words meant, by their position and context on the site:

Their Word in WhateverMy Guess in EnglishExplanations…
ØkisnavnWeb Name (domain name)GT had no idea—I knew “navn” meant “name” from context, and it looks a little like “name” if you stare at it…
SkrásetariRegistrarGT thought it was Registrar too! (from Icelandic)
LokadagurEnd DateGT said “the final date” and “dag” looks like “day” or “date” from a Nordic language…
EginleikarAttributes or SettingsGT had no clue, but identified it as Icelandic nonetheless, then asked if I meant “Eiginleikar” in Icelandic, which it said was “Properties” and that made sense…
BólkurNo idea…GT had no clue, no idea either…
RættaManage or EditGT said it was Icelandic, and it meant “roots” or maybe “the foot” or “discussed” ???
VisViewGT said it was English at first! LOL But Wikipedia said it was a possessive form of a neologistic gender-neutral pronoun in English (whatever that is!), a Croatian island, a river in France, a Bulgarian village, and/or a Dutch surname. From “vis-à-vis” we know that “vis” is from the French-Latin for “face” as well. However, when I manually set the language in GT to Danish, it gave me the word I’d guessed (because it made sense contextually) as “View” and I was happy at last…

Finally, I tried this phrase, “Dagfør gjaldsupplýsingar” which I guessed meant “Update or Enter Payment Information” — GT came back with, “Submit Fee Information” IN DANISH — see, I was right all along!

Languages, and translations are fun! Especially when you haven’t a clue, and only have Google Translate as your assistant…

In closing, all I can say is, “Fee slag—move the ecstasy!” 😊

// Russell Murray

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