Grexit meets Google Translate

You must have got tired of cliches like Greek tragedies.

One of the new words we have had to learn is Grexit, meaning Greece’s exit from the Eurozone (though they have not yet started talking about leaving the European Union).

A prophetic sign at Athens airport the day before the referendum (courtesy of Dr Sunil Mukhi):

Grexit sign

The European Union consists of 27 countries-refresh your memory here:

And there are 20 or more official languages-which would be apparent when you see a passport or other important document from there. It goes without saying that translators have a field day translating every official communication into every other language. The UN manages with a handful of official languages.

We now see what Grexit (or rather “Greece leaves Eurozone”) translates into, courtesy of Google Translate. (“Greece exits” does not seem to convey the meaning as well as “Greece leaves”)

English:     Greece leaves Eurozone

Bulgarian:  Гърция напуска еврозоната

Croatian:   Grčka napusti eurozonu

Danish:     Grækenland forlader eurozonen

Dutch:       Griekenland verlaat de eurozone

Estonian:   Kreeka lahkub eurotsoonis

Finnish:      Kreikka jättää euroalueen

French:      Grèce quitte la zone euro

German:     Griechenland lässt Eurozone

Greek:         Ελλάδα αφήνει Ευρωζώνη

Hungarian:  Görögország elhagyja eurózóna

Irish Gaelic: An Ghréig duilleoga Limistéar an Euro

Italian:          Grecia lascia Eurozona

Latvian:        Grieķija atstāj eirozonai

Lithuanian:    Graikija palieka euro zoną

Maltese:        Il-Greċja weraq Eurozone

Polish:           Grecja opuszcza strefę euro

Portuguese:  Grécia sai da Zona Euro

Romanian:     Grecia părăsește zona euro

Slovak:           Grécko opustí eurozóny

Slovenian:      Grčija zapusti evroobmočje

Spanish:         Grecia sale de la zona euro

Swedish:         Grekland lämnar euroområdet

And the mother language:

Latin:               Greece relinquit Eurozone

Google Translate also covers a few sub-national languages such as Catalan and Welsh, though they haven’t got round to Flemish and Scots Gaelic so far.

The above translations would seem to cover most of the population of the current EU. Note that Serbia, Macedonia and Norway are not in the EU yet. Cyprus should be covered by Greek.

What short and snappy equivalents of Grexit can we expect? In Estonian it might be Kreelah (though this might be too close to Tarzan’s battle cry).  In French it could be Grèqui, and in Italian Grelas. The Irish would have a particularly bad time shortening it. The German language has a tendency to make long single words, but for the moment it could be Grieläs. The Germans are in fact also fond of short forms. In the former East Germany people were scared of the Vopos and still more terrified by the Grepos, i.e.

People’s Police: Volkspolizei: Vopo

Border Police:   Grenzpolizei: Grepo

Now let us see what Google Translate does with Indian languages for the same phrase. See for yourself how (in)effective it is.

গ্রীস ইউরো ছেড়ে

ગ્રીસ યુરોઝોનના નહીં

ग्रीस यूरोजोन के पत्ते   (particularly amusing)

ಗ್ರೀಸ್ ಯೂರೋಜೋನ್ ಎಲೆಗಳು

ഗ്രീസ് യൂറോ ഇലകൾ

ग्रीस Eurozone पाने

ग्रीस यूरोजोन छोडेर

ਗ੍ਰੀਸ ਯੂਰੋ ਨੂੰ ਛੱਡਦੀ ਹੈ

கிரேக்கம் யூரோப்பகுதியில் விட்டு

గ్రీస్ విడిపోతుందన్న ఆకులు

یونان یوروزون چھوڑ دیتا ہے

For once, the Bengali translation is slightly better than the one in Hindi. Probably you will find more amusement in the other languages. I wonder why the Tamil version is much longer than the others.

2 thoughts on “Grexit meets Google Translate

  1. I cannot understand Tamil, but I can read the script to some extent. One reason it looks longer is because in Tamil the “half letters” are written out in full (and not as shorter marks as in the Devanagari, Bengali or even other other South Indian scripts), and some of the “matras” also take more space. This makes Tamil script very regular (there are not too many special ligatures, certainly much fewer than Bengali or even Devanagari), but also makes words look a bit longer horizontally. Written out in Devanagari, the Tamil version reads (roughly)

    ग्रेक्कम् यूरोपगिदियिल् विट्टू

    which does not quite look as long.


  2. The Urdu version is quite interesting. If my barebones Urdu reading is correct, it seems to say “यूनान यूरोजोन छोड़ देता है”. A native Hindi or Urdu speaker would say that if they were summarizing a story to someone else in which Greece leaving the Eurozone was an important plot point, but they when writing a news headline, they would much prefer “यूनान ने यूरोज़ोन छोड़ा” . However, when asked to translate these into English, they would likely translate both as “Greece exitx Eurozone”.


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