Don’t Blame Google For Your Mistakes by Cali M. Diini

Don’t Blame Google For Your Mistakes


Many Somalis keep mocking Google Translate for its ludicrous Somali-English transilations or vice versa. But, I think the problem is not Google, the problem is that many Somalis don’t write Somali language correctly, whether that is laziness or poor knowledge of their own language. If you write the  Somali language correctly, spellings (short and long vowels) and follow correct sentence structure (subject-object-verb) Google will translate your writings correctly. However, I am not saying that Google Translate can translate every Somali word and very sentence. As Dr. Martin Orwin said “Somali is the language that makes Arabic easy.” Of course Somali is extremely difficult language and it will be nearly impossible for Google to understand some Somali expressions and idioms. Or when the stress and pitch determines the gender of the word e.g: nayl, nayl; inan, Inan; dameer, dameer; naag, naag), or singular or plural (orgi, orgi). But, what I am talking about is that some of us don’t care about our language’s rules and structures. We don’t pay attention on correct Somali grammar and spelling then we keep blaming others for our own faults.

Let’s see one example of how poor spelling can confuse the Google Translation. Let’s take two words “BADDII=the sea (past), and BADI=mostly.” If I write BADDII WAY KACSANAYD (The sea was high/rough), and BADI WAY KACSNAYD (mostly the situation/tension was high) Google Translate will easily translate these sentences into English. But, if I ignore the long vowel and the second “d” of “BADDII” then what will happen? Yep you guessed it! Google will mess up everything.

And one more thing, “BADI” also means“increase.” Mushaarka ii badi (increase my salary).

As I mentioned before Somali language is extremely difficulty especially for non-Somali speakers. The most confusing thing for non-Somalis is when one word has several pronunciations and meanings but same spelling. E.g. “BADI” as I indicated above has two meanings (increase and mostly) but it also has two pronunciations (bádi & badí). Therefore, we cannot expect that Google translate can solve something complicated like this but, we Somalis should have basic knowledge of writing Somali language with correct spelling.

Finally, please let us learn and take care of our language.

Cali M. Diini