• Sweden edition
 
Sweden = United States: Google Translate

Sweden = United States: Google Translate

Published: 24 Aug 2011 13:57 GMT+02:00
Updated: 24 Aug 2011 13:57 GMT+02:00

In some contexts, "Sweden" translates as "United States", "Stockholm" becomes "London" and "Dalarna" becomes "Iowa", according to Google Translate.

“There's quite a lot that can go wrong with Google Translate,” Peter Ljunglöf, a computer science professor at the Chalmers Institute of Technology in Gothenburg and expert in computer-aided translations, told The Local.

“It's constantly evolving, but there is still lots that can improved.”

In certain sentences, for example, the central Swedish county of Dalarna, known for ski resorts, natural beauty, and the cradle of traditional Swedish culture, is translated as "Iowa", a Midwestern state in the United States known for its cornfields and the special role it plays is US presidential politics.

And according to Google Translate, the central Swedish county of Västmanland, which borders on the northern shores of Lake Mälaren, is the equivalent of North Yorkshire, an area in northwestern England known for its abundance of national park land.

Ljunglöf theorised that Google's assumption that North Yorkshire is an accurate English translation of Västmanland in Swedish probably has to do with how each is referred to in texts reviewed by Google Translate's tools.

“Västmanland in Swedish is probably used in a similar context as North Yorkshire is used in English,” he said.

“They probably both occur in texts about rural areas and farmland.”

Ljunglöf explained that Google Translate works by drawing on vast databases of texts published on the internet.

“There are tools and algorithms it uses to see if one word is a translation of another word,” Ljunglöf said.

“It can also do this at the sentence level where the tools can see if something is probably an accurate translation.”

He added, that, despite continual improvement, computer-aided translation is far from perfect.

“There are also a lot of humans that have to go in and fix mistakes,” said Ljunglöf.

Part of the problem with getting accurate Swedish-to-English translations, he explained, also has to do the fact that there are many fewer web pages in Swedish compared to other languages.

As a result, it can take longer for Google's tools to identify the right translations, something which is evident when a user enters “Jag är från Stockholm.”

According to Google, the correct English translation is “I am from London.”, although the mistake only occurs if the full-stop is included in the sentence.

And when a user enters the Swedish-English sentence “Jag är från Sweden”, for example, Google spits out “I am from United States”.

“I have no idea why that would happen,” said Ljunglöf.

Attempts by The Local to reach Google's offices in Sweden for comment were unsuccessful.

David Landes (david.landes@thelocal.se)

Your comments about this article

14:40 August 24, 2011 by Douglas Garner
Good and relevant article to many of our compaints against The Local! When I initially moved to Gävle, I missed a great job opportunity because "Gävle" was being translated as "Calcutta."

This should remind us not to take automatically translated documents as gospel... both as editors and as readers!
14:53 August 24, 2011 by visitorfromnowhere
Sorry, but this is not a story about Sweden or Swedish nor the United States and English. I have used Google translate for many languages and for some strange reason it sometimes switches capital cities and currencies rather than merely translate them. I have seen Stockholm become London and KR become USD and Paris become Roma, etc.
14:58 August 24, 2011 by nice1stu
Well of course it is far from perfect. Many words are often lost in translation. Words with multiple meanings often rely on the computer algorithms to decide which word is the appropriate translation.Google Translate often shows multiple translations of some words when they are available. A lot also relies on input from users to provide better translations, and there is no guarantee they are correct either.

Then as well when you mix languages, the computer must decide how to translate your words. Like "Jag är från Sweden", well that's English and Swedish mixed together, making it difficult to decide what Swedish word looks like Sweden, and what it means in English. I am sure "Jag är från Sverige" will come out I am from Sweden.

But I of course tried it, and "Jag är från Sweden" came out "I am from Sweden", so it must have been corrected after they read the article.
15:00 August 24, 2011 by rls1978
I got a job as a babysitter and was using Google Translate to read my babysitting company's handbook. In Swedish, the handbook recommended something about dressing in a mature fashion with a long-sleeved shirt and professional clothes. Google Translate told me, "You should dress topless in order to appear more mature."
15:15 August 24, 2011 by conboy
According to the stock exchanges Google is a winner! Thats all that matters surely!
15:21 August 24, 2011 by dolphin, the
@Douglas Garner:

I have been asking myself often times if TL is using google to translate articles written in Swedish. I guess this will be a wake up call for them and we would see more original news in English soon.

@nice1stu:

I agree with you when it comes to writing in a mixture of languages in a single sentence. But "Jag är från Sweden." is still translated by google-translate as '' I am from United States.'' This only happens, as stated on the article, if you put full stop at the end.
16:07 August 24, 2011 by texaslass
Ris1978-

Thanks for the laugh!
16:08 August 24, 2011 by anniegother
I'll take Google Translate over a manual dictionary (which I had to use in 1999 when I got here!) any day. My most recent translation faux pa was translating an article about the Opening Day Celebrations for the new Gymnasium in Upplands Väsby. Big doings! However, the artist Marcoolio translated to Metallica. We're not THAT big (yet!)

I also read and re-read a translation before sending it on, especially in matters of business. I want the Swedes to take my concerns seriously, which is why I use Google Translate, not for them to have their laugh of the day. I love this tool! But a tool is only as great as the operator...
16:28 August 24, 2011 by The Local
@ Douglas Garner

Those articles on The Local that are translated (from news agency TT) are all translated by humans - of whom all are native English-speaking journalists.

Other articles, such as this one, are written from scratch by our journalists. Any faults in our articles are therefore down to human error and nothing else.

James Savage

Managing Editor
16:31 August 24, 2011 by me_i_sverige
Try translating a Danish pharase (all low caps) to English

jeg er from køge

and, see the result .-D. btw, køge is a small danish town
16:46 August 24, 2011 by Iri
Swedish Krones are translated into British pounds,,, Like here is an example. Once i was trying during my bank statement..

http://translate.google.com/#sv|en|SEK%20100
17:15 August 24, 2011 by sergisr
"Raggare och Eddie Meduza" = "Asian Network and Eddie Cochran".
17:17 August 24, 2011 by Dildo
Stockholm = London.. !
17:20 August 24, 2011 by Nightlight
But of course it will make such mistakes: The translation algorithms are fully automatic, and based on tons of parallel (or semi-parallel) data in the two languages. Often the data in one language is not an exact counterpart of the data in the other language.

However, Google does let you suggest a better translation, so let's just use that opportunity to improve the translation system for the future users.
17:42 August 24, 2011 by Svensksmith
You get what you pay for.
18:49 August 24, 2011 by Hauhr
Oh my goodness, the picture for this article actually has more than simply a vague connection with the subject matter!
20:22 August 24, 2011 by colombianska_tjej
@me_i_sverige and ris1978

Thank you so much for the laughs :)
00:22 August 25, 2011 by stenhuggaren
@ On Target - presumably because it is so much easier for you and a few others to just spew scorn and derision than to think for yourselves and recognise that TL does a bloody good job on presumably very tight resources.
03:52 August 25, 2011 by Jan Svenson
nonsense I just tried the terms you listed , I think you people just make stuff up.
03:57 August 25, 2011 by Da Goat
The real reason is that google does in fact know better

Sweden is a part of the US and Darlana might as well be Iowa and if London is ever flooded Stockholm is the next best thing!

this is really funny really that they don't use the transliteration but the translation of the word and we clearly see the results that the computers think is the same, what an excellent story TL

we can't accuse you of using google translate they include all the words! and make sense just screw up the facts! ROFL!
08:35 August 25, 2011 by Kstock
Just yesterday I typed in "I'm going to take my dog for a walk" into Google translate SV version and I got back =

Varför valde du att flytta hit till kalla landet Sverige? Har du klippor för en hjärna? Tycker du inte att det är dags att du börjar lära sig språket och få ett riktigt jobb du degenererad skithög.
08:57 August 25, 2011 by Douglas Garner
@The Local: Regarding real live native english speaking journalistic translators... perhaps they should slow down and re-read what they write or have some sort of peer checking before publications! Or, is it possible that their knowledge of Swedish is less than optimal? ...perhaps that is why we readers of the Local find it so amusing!

Certainly you have read the frequent criticisms of your translations and reference to Google Translate. Most errors can be sorted out by using a little common sense, but it can be frustrating at times. Don't get me wrong, I love The Local and recommend it to all English speaking immigrants, and even forward the occasional article to my American friends. During my first year or so in Sweden, it was as a lifeline to understanding what Sweden was all about!!!
09:45 August 25, 2011 by Pont-y-garreg
Agree with Douglas Garner.

There are many errors in the English found in articles by The Local.

I'm surprised that they are supposedly written by native English speakers.

I would have guessed, from the mistakes, that many of the articles had been written by Swedish speakers.

A good journalist should check and double check his copy. I suspect the problem lies in the native speaker having lived in Sweden too long. What happens is that one's English starts to absorb some of the typical errors made by native Swedish speakers. (I know from experience)

It's clear, when you look at the mistakes, that they are influenced by interference between the two languages. Some articles are well written and others are, quite frankly, appalling.

The solution to this is to employ a proof reader who has no knowledge of the Swedish language and is, preferably, not living in Sweden.

In these days of the email and Internet this should not be difficult.
15:15 August 26, 2011 by deaftoned
to be honest i thought it was a malicious web script that infests google chrome.

because of example even Webhallen translates into Amazon Marketplace. I do not think it is only a dictionary issue.

Also capital letters and spaces mess up very randomly so it really looked like a script kiddie work.

try virus scanning, deleting cookies, re-installing chrome. and u dont get that effect again. it works most of the time.
22:49 August 28, 2011 by MichiganLady
And sometimes it manages to translate the difficult quite well--but I've seen the glaring errors. I see Google translate in action as I read Helsingborgs Dagblad every day. What's really nice is that you can hover over a sentence and get the original Swedish, and usually see where the translation went a bit sideways. Most of the time, that happens with loose Swedish--(grammatical) subjects not given, just understood.

mylanguages.org does some amazing things with translations, finding English idioms that are equivalent though not a direct translation.
Today's headlines
Donald Duck and Zlatan get Swedish votes
A political career for Zlatan? Some fans seem to want to see that. Photo: Peter Dejong/TT

Donald Duck and Zlatan get Swedish votes

The Bilderberg Group, the Satanic Initiative and Adolf Hitler all received votes in Sweden’s general election, according to a list released by the country’s electoral authority. READ  

Sport
Stockholm fails bid to host Euro 2020 games
The Swedish team in action. Photo: TT

Stockholm fails bid to host Euro 2020 games

Sweden's capital has missed out on a chance to host any Euro 2020 games, with Copenhagen the only Scandinavian city among the thirteen winning locations. READ  

Vicar: God rejects fans of women priests
Antje Jackelén, Archbishop of Uppsala, is the first woman to head the Swedish church. Photo: Stig-Åke Jönsson/TT

Vicar: God rejects fans of women priests

A Swedish priest has been fired after telling his congregation that people who support female priests would be rejected by God - despite the fact that his own church is led by a woman. READ  

Analysis
Women set to dominate top post-election jobs
Margot Wallström (right) could become Stefan Löfven's new Minister of Foreign Affairs. Photo: TT

Women set to dominate top post-election jobs

Sweden could soon get a female Foreign Minister, Fredrik Reinfeldt's ousted Moderate Party is preparing for its first woman leader and the grandmother of actor Hugh Grant's son is being tipped as Parliament's next Speaker. READ  

National
Sweden protests over Russian plane incursions
A Gripen plane was scrambled to see off the Russian planes. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Sweden protests over Russian plane incursions

UPDATED: Sweden has summoned the Russian Ambassador for a dressing down after two Russian planes violated Swedish airspace last week. READ  

Elections 2014
'Good prospects' for Alliance co-operation

'Good prospects' for Alliance co-operation

UPDATED: Social Democrat leader Stefan Löfven says he is positive that his party can co-operate with the former governing Alliance on some issues. READ  

Lifestyle
Introducing...Astrid Lindgren
Pippi Longstocking comes to live at the Astrid Lindgren theme park. Photo: TT

Introducing...Astrid Lindgren

The creator of Pippi Longstocking, Astrid Lindgren, is the most translated author from Sweden, and has filled children's imaginations since the 1940s. The Local finds out why her work has become a timeless classic. READ  

Scotland Decides
Sweden welcomes Scotland's 'No' vote
No supporters celebrate victory in Glasgow. Photo: Matt Dunham/AP/TT.

Sweden welcomes Scotland's 'No' vote

Sweden’s outgoing foreign minister Carl Bildt has welcomed Scottish voters’ decision to reject independence from the UK in Thursday’s referendum. The pound rose against the krona following the result. READ  

National
'Sexsomnia' addict cleared of rape

'Sexsomnia' addict cleared of rape

A Swedish man who had sex with a woman while he was asleep has been acquitted of rape because he suffers from "sexsomnia". READ  

National
Russian jets spotted in Swedish airspace
Russian Su-24 medium-range bomber, known by Nato as 'Fencer,' flies at undisclosed location in Russia in 2002. File photo: AP

Russian jets spotted in Swedish airspace

UPDATED: Two Russian fighter jets violated Swedish airspace on Wednesday, prompting the government to request an urgent report from the Armed Forces. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
The 'black gold' of Sweden's west coast.
National
West Sweden prepares for the 2014 lobster premiere
Society
What's on in Sweden
Politics
How Sweden Democrats went mainstream
Politics
Scandinavia and Scotland: closer links?
Gallery
Property of the week - Eskilstuna
Blog updates

19 September

Editor’s blog (The Local Sweden) »

"Happy Friday readers! It sure has been a exciting week in Sweden, where we’re set to get a new Prime Minister after Fredrik Reinfeldt stepped down following Sunday’s elections. The Local blogged live from the key political gatherings across Stockholm. Why not re-visit the action by taking a look at our photos, tweets, videos and analysis? Since the..." READ »

 

17 September

Deep election analysis (Blogweiser) »

"You think you’re bad? Well I’m American. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NFbomLID0vU Deep deep analysis on Swedish election results. Vlog post: https://t.co/tjQgfa5Yie #svpol #val2014 #politics pic.twitter.com/oEK5ADFT8L — Joel Sherwood (@joeldsherwood) September 17, 2014 " READ »

 
 
 
Sponsored Article
How to start a business in Stockholm
Society
How I became a surf blogger when I moved to Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: September 13th
Society
Why is Stockholm's Södermalm so cool?
Gallery
People-watching: September 11th
Gallery
People-watching: September 13th
Politics
Five possible election outcomes
Politics
Sweden elections: How do they work?
Politics
Sweden elections: Who's who?
Gallery
Property of the week - Hornstull, Stockholm
Analysis
Five differences between the UK and Sweden
Welshman Jonny Luck is now a chef in Sweden
Society
How I opened my own restaurant in Sweden's Malmö
Sponsored Article
Stockholm tech fest: relive the magic
Gallery
People-watching September 8th
Photo: TT
Politics
Feminists fight for first seats
Politics
Immigration cut push from Sweden Democrats
Sheryl Sandberg says women have "low expectations"
Tech
Facebook exec talks women's limits in Swedish business
Politics
Left Party calls for justice and equality
Politics
Green Party wants 'better world' for kids
Lifestyle
The five best Swedish songs of the month
Sponsored Article
Introducing… Insurance in Stockholm
Sponsored Article
Graduates: Insure your income in Sweden with AEA
Sponsored Article
Introducing...Your finances in Stockholm
Sponsored Article
Introducing...Housing in Stockholm
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

883
jobs available
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions is an innovative business company which provides valuable assistance with the Swedish Authorities, Swedish language practice and general communications. Call 073-100 47 81 or visit:
www.swedishdowntown.com
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at:
http://psdmedia.se
If you want to drink, that’s your business.
If you want to stop, we can help.

Learn more about English-language Alcoholics Anonymous in Sweden. No dues. No fees. Confidentiality assured.
AA-EUROPE.ORG/SWEDEN