On receiving some Korean text recently I decided to put it through a well-known free online translation programme. I was shocked to read that not only did we offer a professional translation service but we were also, apparently, offering a rather more intimate service… Here’s how it worked:
English phrase: “We will take the worry out of your translation needs.”
Machine back-translation: “Translation issues to worry about I’ll wash you naked.”
But, thankfully, the translation error was with the machine back-translation, not our well-qualified and well-respected human translator. The Korean phrase provided was entirley correct – an idiom broadly meaning “‘your worries will be washed away”.
Thank goodness! Where the naked bit came from, we still don’t know!
Moral of the story: don’t rely on a machine to do your translation for you – you never know what you might end up promising!