A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Perils of Google Translate

Via Ajam Media Collective, from a hotel in Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan:

Now what has happened here is obvious if hilarious. I presume what is in the pan are some sort of meatballs; someone has transliterated "meatball" into Arabic or Kurdish as mit bul, and someone else has run that through a computer translator to find out how you say "meatball" in English. It has read it as Arabic (I don't know if it would work in Kurdish or not) and come up with "Paul is dead."

Either that or it's another hint in a supposed conspiracy that gave rise to a 1960s urban legend (today it would be an Internet meme) that Paul McCartney of the Beatles secretly died back in 1966. If you played a record backwards it allegedly said "Paul is dead," just like the meatball sign. Sir Paul is feeling much better now.

Don't rely too much on computer translation.


Paul Mutter said...

No, I'm definitely still alive. Ebril International Hotel has gotten it wrong.

Anonymous said...

The Arabic says "Mayyit Baul" which perhaps is a description of one of the ingredients. It would add quite a distinctive flavor.