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Israeli Journalists Insult Dutch Via Translation

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Online translation tools have their uses, but substituting for an actual translation service when sending diplomatic messages across international borders shouldn’t be one of them.

Israeli Journalists Insult Dutch Via Translation
Israeli Journalists Insult Dutch Via Translation

An incident between Israel and Holland could have been much worse. Imagine if American journalists sent a message to Russian or Chinese government officials that came across like the ones noted by The Guardian – diplomatic incident would be putting it mildly.

"Helloh bud, enclosed five of the questions in honor of the foreign minister: The mother your visit in Israel is a sleep to the favor or to the bed your mind on the conflict are Israeli Palestinian," started off the mess. It got worse with subsequent questions, all plugged in online for translation according to the Jerusalem Post:

It continued with five nearly incomprehensible questions, and several other mentions of "mother."

"How could this e-mail possibly have been sent? These journalists have sparked a major, major incident," said an official from Israel’s Foreign Ministry. "Sure he can’t understand many of the questions, because the English is so bad. But he is being asked about the sleeping arrangements of his mother!"

The journalist who set up the trip was away from the newspaper, leaving someone with no practical knowledge of English plugging words into an online translator and sending email to the Dutch Foreign Ministry. The Jerusalem Post identified the site as babelfish.com, but that is a parked domain; the real translation would have been done on another site, possibly one linked from a page of results for "Dutch Translation Service" appearing on babelfish.com.

Israeli Journalists Insult Dutch Via Translation
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