Google Chrome wants to roast children (in Japanese)


September 18, 2012 by Julia

So, I was on the Japanese Evangelion website to see if they will ship the most awesome underwear ever to the US (the answer is no, sigh), and I filled out the registration form to create an account.  I didn’t feel like translating the whole page, so I just hit the Translate button . . . and got this (click for full size):

I seriously laughed for like five minutes straight.

(you can stop reading now if you’re not interested in boring language nerd chat)

The actual Japanese is います/imasu and いません/imasen, which would directly translate to “(living things) exist” and “(living things) do not exist,” but which would really be translated as “Yes” and “No” in English usage.  Imasen is the negative form of imasu.

I had to research how the heck Chrome got “Roast” out of that, since います/imasu is a pretty common word.  Here’s the explanation:

The plain form of います/imasu is いる/iru; the same word iru with the meaning of “to exist” would appear in kanji written form as 入る.  I guessed right away that Chrome confused 入る/iru/”to exist” with 要る/iru/”to need”–they are pronounced the same and written the same in the hiragana written form, but have different meanings.  Because imasen was written without a kanji to tell Chrome which iru to translate in the negative, it randomly guessed and picked 要る/iru/”to need.”  Hence, the negative, “Do not need.”

It turned out that “Roast” worked out pretty much the same, although I ended up learning a new vocab word.  Unsurprisingly, “to roast” (煎る/iru) is not really a word that comes up in college Japanese classes, anime, manga, or j-dramas.  Maybe if I watched Toriko I would have known it . . . (Why is that series so popular?  Does anyone know? It sounds stupid).  Anyway, since います/imasu wasn’t written with a kanji to tell Chrome which one to pick . . . it randomly selected 煎る/iru/”to roast.”

Why did it pick two different meanings of iru to translate?  No clue, but I am STILL giggling.  Context, y’all.


3 thoughts on “Google Chrome wants to roast children (in Japanese)

  1. Ish says:

    I prefer to have my children sautéed…

  2. Kevin says:

    I’ve noticed I get the word ‘Roast’ appearing a lot when I write hiragana sentences in Google Translate … I think the algorithms that their translation engine uses is probably for this rather bizarre, quirky and downright weird translation.

    • Julia says:

      They must have the “roast” reading ahead of other readings, but why? Maybe they have the largest number of strokes first? It doesn’t make sense, though, because 入る is much more common.

      (to give Google credit, ever since I re-installed Windows 7, my Japanese input hasn’t worked at all, so I switched to Google IME. It works much better now)

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