Google Translate Fail: “Indocumentado” Doesn’t Mean “Illegal Immigrant”

Aug 12, 2013
12:59 PM

If the following opinion piece is any indication about how the new Fusion network will be like, then we think both ABC and Univision made the right decision to partner up for a different kind of television network.

This is what Fusion’s Jorge Rivas (@thisisjorge) wrote:


Via @thisisjorge

Dear Google Translate Team,

On Saturday I used Google Translate to translate a Spanish-language Univison News story to English. The news story was about Puerto Rico allowing undocumented immigrants the right to apply for drivers licenses–the headline in Spanish read, “Puerto Rico dará licencia de conducir temporal a indocumentados.”

The Spanish term indocumentado translates to undocumented but Google Translate translated the word to the pejorative term “illegal immigrant.”

Eight out of ten news stories I tested with Google Translate also inaccurately translated the term undocumented to “illegal immigrant.” My colleagues in different regions of the U.S. were able to replicate the same issue on stories hosted on, and a number of other Spanish language news sites. (The inaccurate translation only occurred in the headlines of news stories.)

You can read the rest of the opinion piece here. And we hear that Rivas will be following up with a new story.

As for Google Translate, we say this: