News24

Malaysia blames Google for translations

2012-01-10 14:11

Kuala Lumpur - Malaysia's defence ministry on Tuesday blamed the use of Google Translate for the mangled English that appeared on its website sparking online ridicule.

The translations from the Malay language into English included dress guidelines for ministry staff that prohibited "clothes that poke eye" - a reference to revealing attire.

Instead, the dress code recommended women wear "appropriate clothing and worn neatly and politely in line with the practice of noble character", according to blog postings.

Users of Google and other free online translation services can see their words and sentences instantly converted from one language into another when they type into a text box. But the results can be varied.

Another section of the ministry's website said that after 1957 independence from Britain, the new Malaysian government took "drastic measures to increase the level of any national security threat".

Snickering Malaysians passed the bungled translations around via social networking sites. The passages have since been removed from the ministry's website.

"We have corrected the mistakes and translations are no longer done that way. It is now done manually," Defence Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi told The Star daily.

Malaysia's national language is Malay but English is taught in schools from the early grades and official matters are often conducted in a mixture of both languages.

Many Malaysians speak both languages fluently but there has been growing public hand-wringing over a perceived recent decline in English levels and the potential for that to harm the country's competitiveness.