Lost in (Google) Translation

Earlier today we had a debate in the office over the correct pronunciation of Kronenbourg 1664 in French.

A colleague was adamant that the sibilant eruption of esses and queues pouring forth from his mouth was the correct phrase but it didn’t ring true.

Sadly, the speed and energy of the discussion through my knowledge of the Gallic tongue out of the nearest window and so I quickly fell back on trusty Google translate.

That was my first mistake.

Actually, it was my second; the first was getting involved in the debate in the first place.

Google Translate appears to translate numbers that are entered as test as numbers if the written number appears to be related to a date.

For example:


The phrase “nineteen eighty four” becomes the number “1984” and not “dix-neuf quatre vingt quatre”, as would be expected.

Entering the numbers on different lines pulls the correct translation through.


This may seem intuitive for written translations but is absolutely counter-productive when looking for assistance with spoken language.

For the record, my colleague’s declaration of “Soixante Soixante Quatre” is incorrect; the correct phrase is “Seize Soixante-Quatre”.

Armed with this knowledge, I can break my longer numbers up in future but this may be useful for those of you who may be looking at using Google Translate to help with spoken word translations.


3 thoughts on “Lost in (Google) Translation

    • Indeed!

      I support the Twenty-Thirteen reasoning.

      Two Thousand and X only really worked whilst X was a single digit.

      Twenty Oh One or Twenty Hundred doesn’t seem as pleasing to the ear as Two Thousand and One or Two Thousand.

  1. Clearly your pal had never watched the early-90’s series of Maigret adaptations for ITV.

    They were infamously sponsored by ‘Kronenbourg 1666’, as voiced with linguistically correct Gaelic gusto every week. Critically, that voice-over affirms your correct pronunciation and your co-worker’s embarrassing error.

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