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Google's text-to-speech engine randomly inserts phrase "he now praises the ipad" (code.google.com)
311 points by moeffju on Jan 3, 2013 | hide | past | favorite | 64 comments

"Larry Page used to use an Android. But that is now at an end with" works just great. :)


I tried with "Apple hypnotized the Google founder with a magic wand, end with..." :-)


Apparently happens with all the statements suffixed with "end with"

On translate.google.com [1] it works fine.

[1] http://translate.google.com/?hl=en#auto/en/Larry%20Page%20us...

Still broken on regular translate.google.com for me, using your link...

It's only broken for the female voice, with the male voice it works fine. But i have no idea how google choses which voice to use.

Larry Page is filled with so much drama...


Interesting that you can reproduce the bug by asking it to speak "filled with":


Or something like this (closer to the original bug):


Your first link got me "Filled with so much drama he now praises the iPad". Tee-hee...

Edit: Youtube version: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xyCGrWMk8Ws

I just couldn't resist... >sigh<


weird. i opened the link and played it, cannot reproduce :(

Hah, well done. That is awesome.

"dumbed with" skips the "with so much drama"

Looks like the 'filled with so much drama' quote is from here:


Strange, it appears to be text from a random news article. Some kind of bad training data? Or memory corruption?

Some kind of human error during training seems likely - the intonation isn't neutral, it fits the context. Maybe they were trying to fix the pronunciation for that one phrase, but applied it incorrectly.

Does Google still allow translation suggestions & help? Sounds like a cleverly executed prank that resulted in the database getting bad information added.

I'd cite a page number but I don't have the novel on me. I seem to recall I'm Feeling Lucky mentioning that in Google's infancy, the user translation project left curse words on an alternate language version of Google's homepage for a short time, which led to the abandonment of user translated material for important Google properties.

Edit: Mystery solved on the Reddit comments, it comes from http://fr.zicos.com/mac/i26331784-Hearst-magazine-CEO-offers.... More info seems to reveal that "so much drama he now praises the iPad" will be spoken if "filled with" is used on Translate.

I was able to generate it with "Killed with" as well.

I just tested this on my Nexus 4 and it reproduced. I guess I now praise the iPad.

If you look at comment 11 [1] in the article, it points to [2] as being the source of the TTS hiccup.

It also points out that speaking the phrase "filled with" spits out the rest of the text [3].

[1] http://code.google.com/p/android/issues/detail?id=38538#c11

[2] http://fr.zicos.com/mac/i26331784-Hearst-magazine-CEO-offers...

[3] http://translate.google.com/#en/fr/filled%20with

Allow me to express my envy for your having a Nexus 4, the unattainable device...

Ordered November 27th, still waiting :(

You should try an iPad. I hear they're quite good.

I was able to reproduce this on a Galaxy Nexus.

Confirmed on Cyanogenmod 10.1.

Reminds me of that bug back in 2007 when Google translate would take "sarkozy is chirac" and translate it into "Bush is classless" or other completely different text.


This is probably just an artifact of how Google Translate works. It uses statistics to see corresponding terms and presumes that that's how it's translated. Sarkozy used to be president of France, Bush of USA. What was probably happening was that the phrase "President Bush" was being matched up against "président Sarkozy". So it figures out "President" in French is "président" (correct) and "Bush" in French is "Sarkozy" (incorrect).

Sometimes "Baile Átha Cliath" (the Irish for "Dublin", the capital city of Ireland) gets translated as "London" (the capital of the UK). This is due to Google Translate trying to match up Laws in Ireland (in the Irish language) with UK laws (which would be very similar or potentially based on the same original law). However in the Irish law "Baile Átha Cliath" would be replaced with "London". Here's an example of it: http://translate.google.com/#ga/en/L%C3%A1%20alainn%20inniu%....

My favorite one, since fixed, was translating "amistad" from Spanish to English. It would produce, of course, "friendship". Translate "amistad!" with an exclamation point, and it produced "friendship!" Adding more, "amistad!!" produced "friendship!!" But once you got up to five or so, it suddenly switched and produced "murder!"

Has the issue been fixed already ? I was not able to reproduce it by doing a English to french translation of 'filled with' and doing a pronunciation. I did see the YouTube video demonstrating the problem though.

I can't reproduce it either, perhaps it has something to do with localized and personalized stuff that Google always tries to slap on every request (obviously, I'm not from US).

EDIT: it works if I use one of the provided links (see comments below) for US female voice.

Just tried it again and it still 'works' for me.

At the risk of engaging in humour on HN, when my computer starts to tell me "It rubs the lotion on its skin or else it gets the hose again", I will worry.

"lled wid" and "filmnd widd" also do it. "pilemd wid" and "demd widdd" add the word "attacks".

"condemned with with end with" and "demned go diamond with" are interesting.

TIL: fuzzy search turns up unexpected results that are sometimes amusing.

It appears to be slightly more complicated than that.

This one is great :) "Bill Gates went to buy his new Surface tablet. But being filled with so much drama he now praises the iPad." http://translate.google.com.mx/?hl=en#auto/en/Bill%20Gates%2...

Does the same thing on the nexus 7, but with a lot of stuttering.

Seems to happen with other words too:


Produces: "Patterned is bad" or "Pattern this bad"

Reproduced this on my Galaxy Nexus.

Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VifsRbAEsaM&feature=youtu...

Has this been fixed? I've not been able to reproduce this.

It's reproducible for me in Google Now on my phone (Galaxy Nexus), but not in Google Translate.

Google Now is using a female American voice, but with low quality emphasis. Google Translate is using a male UK voice, with much better emphasis. I don't know how to configure each to choose which voice.

The Google Translate link in a comment elsewhere, that forces the American pronunciation (and high quality emphasis), reproduces it. The default, UK pronunciation, does not.

Seems British English gets the male voice and this only happens to the US female voice.

To switch to the US voice, use this link: http://translate.google.com.mx/?hl=en

After using that, I got the female voice and it "worked".

I was able to reproduce this in Google Translate (as the bug pointed out).

It hasn't, change the resulting language to English and you'll see the issue is still occuring.

Still doesn't do it for me.

I think you'll need the female voice. No idea how to change that, though.

EDIT: Try the US version: http://translate.google.com.mx/?hl=en#auto/en/filled%20with

This doesn't work for me, unfortunately. I keep getting the male voice.

Still works.

this one works for me, tx.

Is it just me, or has Google been trolling Apple a lot lately? The "sell" search "bug" on their stocks site, now this?

Wow, this speaks volumes about their QA process, especially for Android. This bug is known since October '12, how hard can it be for a company with 50k employees to fix a bug like this?

This has got nothing to do with Android other than the fact that google translate and voice synthesis is available on Android.

Yes I know, this is a bug in Google Translate. However, the bug was found by a user using Google Now and was reported in the Android issue tracker. The issue was described very well and is reproducible. I am criticizing that nobody seems to check the reported issues and the time it takes for Google to fix the reported problems.

It's a travesty.

As already mentioned it is not an Android bug.

As long as one uses statistical machine learning, edge cases like this are unavoidable.

Trap street?

Still works better than iOS Maps did at least.

in b4 apple patent infringement suit

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