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Technology & Innovation

Google Translate steals the show, gets laughs, at FIFA press conference

The worlds of sports and technology collide for a good international chuckle.
Spanish journalist Pedro Morata. (Credit: YouTube screencapture)

Translator apps are fun. I’ve used mine to tell bad jokes to my Finnish grandparents-in-law (for the record, “what’s red and invisible?” “no tomatoes!” is universal). 

For all the Big Thinkers out there who aren’t soccer fanatics, let me make this setup a little easier for you. There’s speculation that (French) striker Antoine Griezmann will leave Atletico Madrid (a very popular soccer club in Spain). At this press conference, the PR flacks wanted to keep the questions in French so that the focus would remain on France’s FIFA World Cup pursuit, of which Griezmann is an integral part. 

Pedro Morata, a radio reporter for Madrid’s Cadena SER station, decided to do things a little differently. Not a French speaker, he had the huevos rancheros to run his (Spanish) question about Griezmann potentially being traded through the Google Translate app, thereby translating it into French.

For what it’s worth, Griezmann seemed to really appreciate the ingenuity. Watch: 

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This isn’t the first time that Google Translate has made headlines. Just last year, Sweden (yes, the country) pushed an initiative where musicians and bands used Google Translate to translate Swedish songs into English, French, and Spanish to thereby get a larger audience.

Interestingly enough, Google Translate didn’t used to be this good. At all. In late 2016, Google made the switch from phrase-based translation to Google Neural Machine Translation, essentially using A.I. to translate whole sentences in context rather than individual phrases. It can still procure some pretty funny results, shown here in Rhett and Link’s Matrix spoof.


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