In several recent posts ("Difficult to find the translation," "Google me with a fire spoon"), we've seen evidence that Google Translate has become the preferred automatic translation tool from Chinese to English, sometimes with rather peculiar results.
Now reader Mike Wasson has discovered a quirky translation going the other direction (from English to Chinese).
Entering "happy [animal]" for the most part yields "kuàilè de [dòngwù] 快乐的[动物]", e.g., entering "happy dog" correctly yields "kuàilè de gǒu 快乐的狗."
The result for "happy cat," however, is different. If you enter "happy cat," the result (with the output set to simplified characters) is
Wǒ hěn cute
Oddly enough, if you set the character output to traditional characters, the translation is correct: "kuàilè de māo 快樂的貓." This is the first evidence I've seen of such a gross disparity in the output of a translation into simplified characters versus one into traditional characters — it suggests that Google Translate is using separate training collections for the two character types.
Before closing, it is also worth remarking that the English word "cute" appears in the Chinese translation. This may seem strange, since it doesn't appear in the English input. But for many speakers of Mandarin — there is no completely satisfactory translation of "cute" into their language. There are, of course, plenty of candidates (kě'ài 可爱, guāiqiǎo 乖巧, piàoliang 漂亮, huàn 睆, luó 㑩, huán 嬛), but none of them convey the precise nuances of "cute" as, for example when we say, "That German shepherd puppy is really cute." Hence, many of my Chinese friends always use "Q" to stand for "cute." Q is not only used as a stand-in for the borrowed English word "cute" by many Chinese speakers, it also represents a Taiwanese morpheme meaning "chewy" (the consistency of a gummy bear, I've been told). And then there's QQ, which has a variety of functions, including serving as the name of the most popular free instant messaging network in mainland China.
But I'd better QUIT while I'm ahead, or I'll end up with EYES FULL OF TEARS.