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Twitter Tests Translation: All the Right Moves or Risky Business?

Indications that Twitter has an auto-translate feature in the works have set the hearts aflutter of Tweeters around the world.

Now in the testing phases, a new feature is on the horizon that will allow tweets to be automatically translated into various languages – English, Spanish, French and beyond. The move comes about as a reaction to Twitter’s growing popularity not only in the U.S. but also in Canada, Germany and Brazil. Twitter bigwigs hope that, with the help of Bing Translate, multilingual communication via social media will become an increasingly realistic possibility.

Twitter’s efforts follow those of Facebook, which started to roll out its own automatic translation tool in the fall of last year. Though the work of both companies remains in initial stages, the ball is definitely rolling.

And while these technological advances are promising, they are not without glitches. We all know that automatic translation technology falls short of perfect and can cause comical, embarrassing and even offensive situations.

Need proof?

When translated into English using Google Translate, one of French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s

February tweets reads, “Every time there is a blockage, I’ll cut the French people.”

Of course, we know that this isn’t what President Sarkozy’s original French said. However, its translation is undeniably perplexingly.

As the automatic translation projects of Twitter, Facebook and other social media develop, mishaps are bound to pop up, inevitably causing more than a few misunderstandings and, hopefully, a lot of laughs.twitter

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