Chilling with Google Translate

Chilling with Google Translate

Once again, automatic translation has proven to be our friend here on Page 3 — and the enemy of an Israeli website trying to sell, in this case, Häagen-Dazs ice cream.

Häagen-Dazs, of course, is the Danish-sounding word invented in 1959 by Reuben Mattus to sell high-end ice cream. Mr. Mattus, a Polish-born Jewish immigrant to New York, chose Danish in tribute to Denmark’s rescue of Jews during World War II.

However, all of this backstory was lost on whoever it was who decided to run a Hebrew language product page through an automatic translation algorithm.

The algorithm recognized the Hebrew phrase “ha-aggan” as meaning “the pelvis,” and “d-az” as meaning “back then.”

The result is a cautionary tale, whose lesson was neatly summed up by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer, who posted it to Facebook: “God give me the confidence of an Israeli making an English website.”

Or maybe not.

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