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Galicia town to take action against Google Translate over 'clitoris' gaffe

Jessica Jones · 3 Nov 2015, 09:24

Published: 03 Nov 2015 09:24 GMT+01:00

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"We think that it is a serious error and believe that Google should recognize the Galician language," Monserrat García, spokeswoman for As Pontes town hall, told The Local on Monday evening after the story went global.

One of the highlights of the year in the town of As Pontes in Galicia, northwestern Spain, is its annual rapini festival, when townsfolk celebrate the town's speciality, the leafy green vegetable similar to spinach. 

But when residents clicked to read the town’s website in Castillian Spanish - provided by Google Translate - to check the dates for next year’s fest, they were shocked to discover the new adult themed turn the festival had taken.

"Google translate recognized our Galician word grelo as Portuguese and translated into the Spanish clítoris," explained García to The Local. 

So instead of promoting the Feira do grelo (Rapini Festival) the website ended up advertising a much more X-rated affair - the Feria Clítoris (Clitoris Festival).

"The clitoris is one of the typical products of Galician cuisine," read the description of the festival in the Castillian Spanish version of the town hall’s website, whose original version is written in Galician. 

The mistake, which was corrected last Thursday according to La Voz de Galicia, is due to the fact that in Portuguese, grelo is an archaic slang term for the clitoris.

Google did not recognize the writing on the website as Galician and instead translated the term from the Portuguese.

While the mistake might seem funny - and a cautionary tale about trusting online translators - As Pontes town hall is taking it more seriously.

"It’s a very serious error on the part of Google and we are thinking about making an official complaint for Google to properly recognize the Galician language so this kind of thing doesn’t happen again," Garcia told The Local.

Story continues below…

Galician is an official language in the northwestern region of Galicia, along with Spanish, where over 2.4 million people speak the regional tongue.

It is closely related to Portuguese, which could explain how Google ended up translating an innocent leafy vegetable as something altogether different.

Rapini is a staple of Galician cuisine and is also a common ingredient in Italian and Portuguese dishes. It is a subspecies of turnip and is the southern European equivalent of 'turnip tops' or 'turnip greens' and in the US is known as broccoli raab or broccoli rabe.

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Jessica Jones (jessica.jones@thelocal.com)

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