Still water and empty containers: automatic translation of Ministry of Health’s Facebook post goes viral

PETALING JAYA: A Ministry of Health Facebook post that was awkwardly translated automatically from Bahasa Malay to English recently made the rounds on social media.

The Monday January 3 message was to encourage the public to consume enough still water as a New Year’s resolution, with the English text calling it “empty water” as a literal translation of “air kosong”.

An audit from The Star revealed that the post was originally written in Bahasa Malay and automatically translated by the social media platform for each user with the feature active.

“How many glasses of plain water have you consumed today?” Is this in line with the Malaysian Healthy Plate (MHP) recommendation, ”the post read, while indicating the recommended consumption of plain water.

Some Facebook users shared screenshots of the English translation while poking fun at the text without verifying that it was not from the ministry but a product of the function of automatic translation.

However, the ministry later removed the post from Facebook, while the Bahasa Malaysian version remains on its other official social media platforms such as Twitter.

Facebook’s automatic translation feature is optional and can be turned on or off on each user’s settings page.

Maria J. Book