On November 6, the Jerusalem Post reported on what sounds like a major diplomatic incident arising from a machine-translated email. A group of Israeli journalists were invited by the Dutch foreign minister to visit the Netherlands, and the only journalist who did not speak English sent five questions by email, using Babelfish to translate Hebrew into English.
“Helloh bud, Enclosed five of the questions in honor of the foreign minister: The mother your visit in Israel is a sleep to the favor or to the bed your mind on the conflict are Israeli Palestinian, and on relational Israel Holland,” began the e-mail. It continued with five nearly incomprehensible questions, and several other mentions of “mother.” …
As for the references to the foreign minister’s “mother” – the Babelfish Web site had translated the Hebrew word for “if” (ha’im) as the similar word for mother (ha’ima). Other mistakes included “bandages of the knitted domes” instead of “Dome of the Rock” and one question that read: “Why we did not heard on mutual visits of main the states of Israel and Holland, this is in the country of this.”
Was this reported in the Dutch press? It seems to have caused more problems than I would have expected:
The Dutch Foreign Ministry is considering canceling the entire trip and filling a formal complaint over the incident. The journalists, meanwhile, said that they were currently too embarrassed to continue with the planned visit.