From Iceland — Lost In Google Translation: Reminiscing The Past Eruptions

Lost In Google Translation: Reminiscing The Past Eruptions

Lost In Google Translation: Reminiscing The Past Eruptions

Published November 10, 2021

Reetta Huhta
Photo by
Hari/Morgunblaðið

Apparently, the ongoing volcanic eruption at Geldingadalur has turned people’s minds to the past. According to a recent Morgunblaðið headline, the eruption is reminiscent of old times.

As a reader of the news, you prepare yourself for interviews with the elderly, who have seen one eruption after another during their time on the earth. You’re intrigued by their experiences: Out of all the past eruptions they have witnessed, of which one does the current lava flow remind them?

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You doubt it’s the infamous eruption at Eyjafjallajökull, since that only just occurred in 2010—not old times. Besides, the eruption at Eyjafjallajökull made things difficult for the people wanting to visit Iceland by disrupting air travel across Europe. The eruption at Geldingadalur has been nowhere as troublesome. If anything, the number of tourists has grown due to the interest in the eruption.

Perhaps they are referring to the Eldfell eruption of 1973, which happened without warning? Thousands of people needed to be evacuated from the Westman Islands within a few hours after the eruption. But how would that be similar to the current one?

Reading beyond the headline, it turns out there’s been another misunderstanding by our trusty friend, Google Translate. The news has nothing to do with eruptions, although the mistake is understandable. In Icelandic, the word ‘gos’ means both eruption and soda. The article is in fact about the latter option: a new soft drink called Kremulaði.

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