From Iceland — Lost in Google Translation: Iceland Saves All Animals, Real or Not

Lost in Google Translation: Iceland Saves All Animals, Real or Not

Lost in Google Translation: Iceland Saves All Animals, Real or Not

Published June 7, 2021

Brittnee Kiner
Photo by
Screenshot / Fréttablaðið

According to Fréttablaðið, a wooden parrot was courageously rescued by the Icelandic fire brigade on May 17th. At first, the Grapevine was less than impressed. It wasn’t exactly the brazen, eye-catching rescue we all crave, in a country where reporters dash to the first sign of a runover sheep, falling victim to the ring-road enthralled tourists. Saving a wooden parrot? Not exactly heroic, until we realized this was exactly everything we had wished for—an audacious rescue of an actual, living parrot.

While it might not be as wild as those in South America, a domestic parrot still requires a focused and methodical rescue mission of the nation’s best, albeit only, fire brigade. The parrot was found perched in a tree, naively assuming that he belonged out in Icelandic nature—how wrong he was. This is no place for a parrot, heck, it’s no place for humans most of the time. Unfortunately, this was no locally-made, handcrafted, artisanal parrot carved from the birch trees of Iceland’s wilderness—though, it’s definitely organic.

The headline reads, “Slökkvi­liðið bjargaði páfa­gauki úr tré,” but Google translates the title to “The fire brigade rescued a wooden parrot.” “Slökkvi­liðið bjargaði” accurately becomes “The fire brigade rescued” but unfortunately, the composition of the parrot transformed when the preposition “úr” was introduced. This is supposed to mean “out of” but when combined with “tré,” or tree, the meaning evolves. Google sucks the life out of the parrot and instead, creates an illusion that Iceland’s fire brigade is hopelessly devoted to all animals, whether they’re locally-bred or locally-made, we don’t discriminate—all animals will be saved here.

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