Korean Translation Tip: There’s a Translation Error in the Korean Google Android Interface!

Even tech giants like Google are not immune from Korean translation errors when best practices are not followed in the work process.

While helping my wife download photos from her Android phone recently, I was baffled when the Korean-language interface indicated as follows that it was “uploading 344 of a total of 200 photos.” 


That doesn’t make sense.

Then I realized what happened…  There’s a Korean translation error in Google!

Apparently, the English source was provided to the Korean translator with coded variables, which then didn’t get placed correctly into the translation. In English, we would put the smaller number first, but in Korean, the larger number should be first. 

Best-Practice Tip – Translating into a computer interface often has limitations. However, when working with you on Korean translation, it’s extremely important to remember that we can’t just force Korean into an English grammatical structure or sequence. Sometimes it can be done, but this often results in awkward phrasing.

Actually, there is one more Korean translation error in Google here. 

Even if the number positioning issue is fixed, the sentence would read:

“Uploading 200 of a total of 344 [photos]”. 

But that’s wrong. 

Without having access to the original English, I can’t be sure exactly what it is supposed to say. But it should say one of these:

“Uploading photo 200 of a total of 344 photos”
(총 344개 사진들 중 200번째 사진 업로드 중)


Uploaded 200 of a total of 344 photos”
(총 344개 중 200개를 업로드 했음.)

Either way, the current translation doesn’t reflect the meaning correctly and should be fixed.

4 Responses

  1. Interesting! Did you try to contact the Google team? 😉
    PS: I notice your comment field doesn’t get pre-filled properly (instead of my name it fills my e-mail address a 2nd time, when I use RoboForm or another form-filler). Not sure if that is the fault of TypePad or RoboForm though…

  2. Yeah, it always takes me two logins to get comments to work on Typepad too. I ought to check with their customer support; just haven’t done so yet.
    Not sure who at Google I’d tell. Perhaps their search engine spider will find the post and report it to them automatically? 🙂

  3. Hi Steven, Trevor here. (My previous comments weren’t posted so I’m giving another try)
    As interpretation & translation professional, I also come across translation errors similar to those you’ve found day in and day out.
    One of my colleagues is currently working at Google’s Seoul office as linguist, and I would like to share your post with her and ask her what she thinks on the matter.
    I’ll keep you posted.

  4. Thanks, Trevor. Sure, I’d be interested in her response. Microsoft already fixed their interface after reading my posts, so hopefully Google can do the same.