I encountered a comically unexpected translation error recently. English is rapidly becoming the language of the Earth, even though it is difficult to learn and has many unclear situations depending on your English proficiency or cultural background.
In a professional environment, we expect coworkers and customers to behave professionally using professional language.
But across cultures, words and phrases can have different meeanings. A classic example is an interview with a British television host discussing a job opportunity in the USA.
Last year, I encountered this situation several times in real-life scenarios where a driver and passenger struggled to communicate during a pickup.
Passenger (who presumably learned English as their 2nd or 3rd language) would message the driver, intending them to send a message when the driver arrives at the pickup location:
passenger: massage me when you get here
To a native English speaker, this is unprofessional sexual harassment. Passengers should not request personal favors from their rideshare drivers
But maybe, this was just an unintentional misspelling.
But what if the passenger sends:
passenger: when you cum, massage me
Is this a high intentional sexual harassment or is this person uncomfortably bad at English? In the context of this being in a country with many non-native English speakers, the author is likely someone who learned English by listening and learned spelling by sounding out words. But if this was sent in a native speaking country, this would be considered Sexual Harassment.
Content moderation is hard.
In English-speaking countries like the USA, Canada, or England, these messages would likely be deemed offensive
In a language-diverse country like Singapore or Thailand, messages like this are just part of everyday business.
Even English teachers can teach the wrong pronunciation of words, as seen in this classic
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