Google Translate Fail, With an Assist From User Laziness

There is a birthday approaching (not local), so I stopped by our local “paper store” — drugstores sell drugs here, not greeting cards — to pick out something to send. Hungarians celebrate a thing called “name days” for people in addition to birthdays, which is actually kind of convenient in the working world. Our friends tell us that most offices make a bigger deal about name days than birthdays, in part because they’re easier to track. With only 10 million people and a very serious attitude toward honoring family, names in Hungary are nowhere near the, uh, creative exercise they’ve become in the US. So each year, they take all the basic names in use — think in terms of the license plate rack in your run-of-the-mill souvenir shop — and allocate them across the year. Because some names are really heavily used — e.g., Gábor, Káta, and yes, Áttila — they get two or three name days during the year, and people with that name can choose which day they want to celebrate (and the sneaky ones tell different contingents different days).

Anyhoo, back in the store, I wanted to make sure I wasn’t mangling “name day” and “birthday,” so I fired up Google Translate, and, well, this is the result:


Turns out those umlauts and accent graves in születésnap are kind of important in Magyarul. Happy sulfate-dropping day to… well, you know who you are. Love, Villiam.


2 responses to “Google Translate Fail, With an Assist From User Laziness

  1. Ok, well, I thought I would be smart and give a nice wedding card, with no wording on the inside. Just one word and a picture of wedding rings on the outside. Sounds good, right? Except if you don’t look up the one word. It turns out it was not “congratulations” as I thought, but “invitation”. Fortunately, the recipient had a good sense of humor and knows how I lack in Hungarian!

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