Google Translate bug mixes up Heath Ledger, Tom Cruise

The name of the actor, who died tragically on Tuesday, awkwardly comes out as "Tom Cruise" in Google's English-to-Spanish translator.


UPDATE: Google representatives informed CNET News.com on Thursday that this "internal issue with Google Translate" has been fixed.

Gawker has unearthed a rather odd bug in the Google Translate software: its English-to-Spanish translator converts the name of the actor Heath Ledger, who died tragically on Tuesday, to the name of another actor--Tom Cruise. So if you enter in "I will miss Heath Ledger," Google Translate will come back with "Voy a perder Tom Cruise."

This looks like a simple bug in the system, perhaps the work of a bored Googler somewhere in the world. It only affects the English-to-Spanish translation; translations from English into other languages leave "Heath Ledger" intact, and "Tom Cruise" remains "Tom Cruise" in a Spanish-to-English translation. And the bug only appears to apply to the name "Heath Ledger," as substituting a number of other actors' names (Owen Wilson, John Travolta, Russell Crowe, Jake Gyllenhaal) also fails to yield "Tom Cruise."

It'd all be pretty funny were it not for the terrible circumstances surrounding Ledger, 28, who was found dead after an apparent overdose of sleeping pills; there's nothing tasteless about it, thankfully, but cracking jokes or hinting at Scientology conspiracies just doesn't seem all that fitting. We've contacted Google for comment. But we're guessing that this won't be a very pressing issue for Mountain View.

About the author

Caroline McCarthy, a CNET News staff writer, is a downtown Manhattanite happily addicted to social-media tools and restaurant blogs. Her pre-CNET resume includes interning at an IT security firm and brewing cappuccinos.

 

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