Google says it’s addressed a bug in its online translation tool after it started translating the words “Russian Federation” to “Mordor.” This matters, of course, because Mordor is the name of a fictional region in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth, as described in the Lord of the Rings books by other names like The Land of Shadow. Unlike Russia, you can’t just walk into Mordor.*
Other errors — including translating “Russians” to “occupiers” — were introduced to Google Translate’s Ukrainian to Russian service automatically, Google said, according to the BBC.
The terms mirror language used by some Ukrainians after Moscow annexed Crimea in 2014. Social media users have been sharing screenshots of the erroneous translations in recent days. Google Translate works by looking for patterns in hundreds of millions of documents, but perfect translation may elude it when the meaning of words is tied to the context in which they’re used, the company explained.
“Google Translate is an automatic translator — it works without the intervention of human translators, using technology instead,” said Google in its statement. “This means that not all translations are perfect, and there will sometimes be mistakes or mistranslations. We always work to correct these as quickly as possible when they are brought to our attention.”
*You need the right paperwork, however, and you might actually be limited to driving.