Google has fixed a bug in an online tool after it began translating “Russian Federation” to “Mordor”.
Mordor is the name of a fictional region nicknamed “Land of Shadow” in JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings books.
In addition, “Russians” was translated to “occupiers” and the surname of Sergey Lavrov, the country’s Foreign Minister, to “sad little horse”.
The errors had been introduced to Google Translate’s Ukrainian and Russian service automatically, Google said.
The terms mirror language used by some Ukrainians following Moscow’s annexation of Crimea in 2014.
Although Google translations are managed automatically, it is possible for users to suggest alternative translations manually but according to Google, the errors happened without human input.
Google Translate works by looking for patterns in hundreds of millions of documents but translation remains very much imperfect as the meaning of words is tied to the context in which they are used.