From Iceland — Lost In Google Translation: Music Sickness?

Lost In Google Translation: Music Sickness?

Lost In Google Translation: Music Sickness?

Published August 8, 2022

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If you’re looking for an Icelandic meal to give you food poisoning this summer, boy do we have the article for you! A piece ran in RÚV recently with the headline “Sex Sjúklegar Íslenskar Sumarplötur,” or “Six Sickly Icelandic Summer Plates,” so we can only imagine what kind of recipes the national news is recommending. Maybe some svið (boiled sheep head)? Or a little hákarl (fermented shark)?

But wait! Why is this article filed under RÚV’s “Tónlist” or “Music” section? Why would anyone want to listen to “sickly plates”? Did RÚV mix up when categorising the article—or did Google Translate mess up once again?

Fortunately for those of us with weak stomachs, the article has nothing to do with food sickness and everything to do with great albums. Damn it Google! We thought we could trust you this time.

The word “sumarplötur” actually means “summer albums,” not summer plates. This resolves the article categorisation confusion. While Google was correct that “sjúklegar” means “sick,” it was incorrect with the usage. Google believed the author is saying the summer album has an illness or is sickly. In reality, the author is saying the album is cool or rad.

Turns out RÚV just wanted to share some sick summer albums for our listening pleasure. Feel free to check out these recommendations or better yet, bypass the translation confusion and check out the Grapevine’s own music recs, already in English…

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