From Iceland — Lost In Google Translation: Sir Elton Is Dead! Long Live Sir Elton!

Lost In Google Translation: Sir Elton Is Dead! Long Live Sir Elton!

Lost In Google Translation: Sir Elton Is Dead! Long Live Sir Elton!

Published March 12, 2021

John Pearson
Photo by
Markus Winkler via Unsplash

When the team at Grapevine Towers read on mbl.is that Sir Elton John had died, the well-lubricated VineMachine sprang into an immediate response. Just imagine the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, but wearing plastic viking helmets.

David Furnish and Sir Elton John

Photo mbl.is/AFP

Before you could say “Nikita,” news editor Andie had turned out an eloquent obituary for Pinner’s premier piano-man, Valur had donned his black suit (with Pollý in matching harness) ready to cast the devastating news to the world, and culture editor Hannah Jane had organised a gala extravaganza tribute performance of ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road’—all four sides of the vinyl, starring herself—with tickets already on sale. That girl doesn’t hang about.

When we realised that this news was simply a GoogleGaffe™—yet another mistranslation by the world’s favourite language-mangling tech-giant—Team ‘Vine found themselves all adrenalined-up with nowhere to go. So following a brisk jog around the block to shake it off, the rest of the day was spent blasting “Candle In The Wind” on the office stereo and wallowing in the relief that Sir Elton’s life hadn’t sputtered out like… erm… well, like a candle in the wind.

What had actually happened to Elton was that he had lost weight; nothing more dramatic than that. However the expression “Elton John hefur lést” could be taken to mean both “Elton John has lost weight” and “Elton John has died”—at least to the linguistically naïve—and that includes the GoogleBot™. So on this occasion we’re going to cut it some slack. It’s trying hard, after all.

Anyway, thankfully the Rocket Man is still on earth, he’s just hefur lést (or a little less hefty). He’s Still Standing. Yeah Yeah Yeah!

Note: Due to the effect the Coronavirus is having on tourism in Iceland, it’s become increasingly difficult for the Grapevine to survive. If you enjoy our content and want to help the Grapevine’s journalists do things like eat and pay rent, please consider joining our High Five Club.

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