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Skype Translator Experiences Embarrassing Glitch

Skype Translator, Microsoft’s real-time voice and instant message translator, has experienced an unfortunate glitch – unintentionally adding swear words to Chinese translations. It was spotted by backpacker and photographer Tom Carter, who was using Skype to speak to people in Mandarin during filming of a TV commercial for Skype.

Carter was chatting to a Chinese location scout when the mishap occurred. In theory, the speech recognition tech that powers Skype’s voice translator would let him converse in perfect Mandarin. But when Carter said, ‘It’s nice to talk to you,’ Skype translated to ‘It’s f***ing nice to f*** you.’ Suffice to say that wasn't the only mistranslation. Carter described Skype as being like ‘the icebox robot from 1970s flick Logan’s Run, but with Tourette's syndrome.’

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Skype’s voice translation tool was launched in Spanish and English in December 2014, and in Italian and Mandarin in April. Character-based languages like Chinese, Japanese and Korean are very different to Latin-based languages, which means accurate translations are difficult. A spokesperson for Skype told IB Times, ‘Skype Translator is still in preview; please be patient. If you experience any mistranslations, repeat the sentence again to see if you receive a better quality translation.’

Skype is not concerned about the glitch – the translator is still in beta and uses machine learning, so it will become smarter the more it is used. The glitch is being blamed on the Great Firewall – an ironic term used to describe the Chinese government’s monitoring of online activities in Mainland China. China’s intensive censor system means that Skype frequently experiences cut-outs and intermittent blocking.


Aaron Waterhouse

Aaron is a recent English graduate from Durham University who is now working as a content writer intern. An enthusiastic traveller, he hopes to become a journalist and report from around the world. Follow him @AaronAtSMF

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Skype Translator Experiences Embarrassing Glitch Reviewed by Unknown on Wednesday, July 29, 2015 Rating: 5

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