Reblog> The Geopolitics of Context: Mordor, Russia and Google Translate, by @Pip__T

An interesting blogpost by Pip Thornton on the Royal Holloway Geopolotics & Security blog:

The Geopolitics of Context: Mordor, Russia and Google Translate

“One does not simply walk into the Russian Federation”

Over the last week several media outlets, and many more Twitter feeds, have been spreading news of a series of ‘glitches’ in Google Translate which saw the word Russia being synonymised with Mordor when translated from Ukrainian to RussianFurthermore, Russians became occupiers and for a short time the name of the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov returned the result sad little horse. 


Twitter / Vadim Nakhankov (

Noting that ‘the terms mirror language used by some Ukrainians following Moscow’s annexation of Crimea in 2014″², some suggested the possibility of foul play; that the algorithm was ‘hacked by spies‘, ‘jokers’ or ‘mischievous pro-Kiev activists’,  or that the words had been inserted manually by users as alternative translations presumably in order to ridicule Russia and humiliate Lavrov. Other sources referred to a ‘bug’ or an ‘automated error’ in the algorithm, an explanation seemingly substantiated by the way Google quickly issued an ‘embarrassed apology’, stepping in to ‘fix’ their wayward algorithms as soon as the matter came to light.

Read the full post here.

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