Monday, December 19, 2011

Politics invades Google Translate tools

Check out this Google-translated headline from Al Masry al Youm:

Two Palestinians killed in Tahrir Square ("liberation")?

The article says nothing about any Palestinian Arabs there. So what's going on?

Google offers two alternative translations:

The Arabic word being translated is شهيدان -"Shahidani" -which has the root word "Shahid",  "martyr."

Whether by design, of by anti-Zionists contributing their own translations, or by the fact that the Arabic media is so overwhelmingly obsessed with reporting on Palestinian Arabs as "martyrs," Google's algorithms assumed that the word "martyrs" by default means "Palestinians killed."

This is not a reflection of reality - the percentage of Arabs killed by Israel is minuscule compared to those killed by other Arabs. This year alone, in Syria the death count is over 5000; in Egypt it is over 850, about 225 in Tunisia - and over 10,000 in Libya.

The hate for Israel is in the Arabic-speaking world is so entrenched that, by default, the word "martyr" is assumed to mean someone killed by the Jews even when odds are overwhelming that the "martyr" was killed by another Arab.