Mayochup: Why Machine Translation Can Let You Down

May 20, 2019

Short honk: DarkCyber spotted a story about “mayochup.” The word’s origin is Kraft Heinz. According to The Star:

Kraft Heinz has acknowledged an “unfortunate translation” of its latest buzzy condiment of pre-mixed mayonnaise-ketchup that has reached Canada. Mayochup, which was a crowd-sourced name, can mean something entirely different in some Cree dialects, according to linguists and Cree-speakers.

The newspaper did not spell out the translation of the Cree word. That’s okay. Google did not recognize the word, preferring to render the translation as “mayochup.” Helpful.

Is this important? To the Cree, yes. To Heinz Kraft, probably because it will cost real money to deal with the PR problem. For users of automated translation systems, if the word is a new one, the translation won’t reflect the actual meaning.

That means some high flying technologists will be mayochuped.

Stephen E Arnold, May 20, 2019


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