Google Translate used for Irish language version of 1916 commemoration text

13 Nov 2014

The Irish Government has come under criticism for using Google Translate as its translation source for the Irish-language sections of the site created to commemorate the 1916 Rising,

The Irish-language news service had earlier reported that from its examination of the website, the section as Gaeilge was practically nonsensical. When placed into Google Translate, it appeared to be an almost perfect match, with citing claims of a lack of care for the country’s native language.

While the website has since been updated with the correct Irish-language text, a spokesperson for the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, in speaking to RTÉ explained that the use of Google Translate text was due to miscommunication and poor fact-checking on behalf of the Government.

On the left-hand side is the Google Translate version as appeared in the original website, while on the right is the revised correct Irish language text.

According to the spokesperson, the English text had been sent to an external web design company that sent back a draft version of the site with the Google Translate text as a design placeholder for the Government to replace with the correct text, something which was never corrected by the Government.

One of the country’s largest Irish-language organisations, Conradh na Gaeilge, has since accused the Government of being simply lazy with regard to the translation, saying in a statement, “Without a doubt mistakes like these would not be accepted from the Government in English. The Irish language and Gaeltacht community should not have to accept them in Irish.”

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic