Sometimes, technology has a mind of its own.
According to the BBC, Google Translate got a little snarky when the Ukranian to Russian feature started converting “Russian Federation” into “Mordor.” For those who don’t know what Mordor is, shut up and embrace your inner nerd. It’s a fictional hellish land with scary volcanoes from J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. It also means land of shadows, so there’s that.
Other notable translation mishaps from Google Translate’s Ukranian to Russian include “Russians” being translated to “occupiers,” and Sergey Lavrov, Russia’s minister of foreign affairs, becoming “sad little horse.”
Google said the error was an “automated” bug, meaning that Google Translate works by picking up on metaphors and comparisons people use online. Apparently the words Mordor and Russian Federation, sad little horse and Serget Lavrov, and occupiers and Russians were used together in Ukrainian so many times that Google thought they meant the same thing.
"Google Translate is an automatic translator — it works without the intervention of human translators, using technology instead," Google said in a statement to the Guardian. “When Google Translate generates a translation, it looks for patterns in hundreds of millions of documents to help decide the best translation. Automatic translation is very difficult, as the meaning of words depends on the context in which they’re used. This means that not all translations are perfect, and there will sometimes be mistakes or mistranslations.”
Thanks for clearing that up, Google.