Translation errors on French and other courses

@BenWhately @James_g_memrise

At the moment I’m going through one of your French courses and there’s about a hundred of incorrect translations. For instance, you can have a verb translated as a noun. Many words are translated very close, but still incorrect. Judicieux - мудрый (wise), correct translation would be “рассудительный” (judicious). Earlier I did your Spanish and Italian courses and they were of the same kind, hundreds of errors. Still asking myself how it’s possible to translate so simple material so shitty.

It’s bad to have errors in the first place, but thousands of people are learning your courses every day, people who might not have a clue about these errors, and you know you have incorrect translations and doing nothing, isn’t it outrageous? Also, I’ve reported some errors in the Italian course more than a year ago, there’s a part of them not fixed yet. All your language specialists are vanished, no feedback from them.

Can you explain your attitude?


Hi @Hombre_sin_nombre, thanks for your post.

First of all, as suggested already, for future reference please consider creating a new thread in the relevant category for all new topics. This was originally posted in the thread about the new web dashboard, so your contribution was off-topic there.

Secondly, although you do raise good points, please always be respectful when you contribute to the forum and engage with staff and fellow learners. Your language in this post was quite abrasive and we won’t tolerate that, so please always stick to the basic rules of netiquette as you would in real life.

I’ve raised the message to the relevant team who will investigate further and consider replying on this thread with more information.

In the meanwhile, please could you send a list of the items with translation errors? I understand this will take some time from you, which we thank you in advance for, but this is the only way for us to identify the potentially faulty items and review them.

As a reminder, we also have a form that allows you to raise any issues directly to the team, quickly - here it is.

Our internal and external translators go through this list monthly and review all entries.

Regarding this point, please note that not all reports might be addressed, given that some translation errors are not actually mistakes but actually different usages/synonyms of the word or sentence in question, so our specialists might decide not to change them. This might or might not apply to your case though, so if you have more details about those reports, please post them here and someone will take a look again.


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Hi @Hombre_sin_nombre!

Your example of “judicieux” being translated as “wise” seems good to me; “judicious” and “wise” are very similar in meaning in English, and “wise” is much more common, and therefore the most natural translation for most situations - checking a couple of dictionaries, both “judicious” and “wise” are given as translations of the same meaning of “judicieux”, and the example sentences given exclusively use “wise”. The word “judicious” is also quite formal in style and not common in everyday speech in English, even to the extent that I suspect many English speakers may not be 100% sure what it means. I can’t speak for the Russian translations specifically, but the English back-translations you’ve given seem fine to me for those reasons. I’ll check with our Russian linguist for a better understanding of the Russian translations and whether there is a better alternative for them.

If you have any other examples of translation issues, please flag them via [this link] so that we can have the relevant linguists take a look. (Submit a translation error)

One thing to remember is that any translation of a simple word and many phrases on Memrise is usually lacking context, and so the way we go about translating those words in the absence of that context is to assess two things about the target item:

  1. What is the most ‘obvious’/common usage, i.e., what springs immediately to mind when most native speakers hear the word/phrase?
  2. What translation would best capture either this most common usage, or would fit the widest range of contexts?

When a dictionary gives you a translation of a word, it usually lists multiple options for this exact reason. However, when thinking about context, register, the best way to convey meaning to a learner, and the best option for many of our test types within Memrise (for example, you don’t want huge translations that take up half the screen in Speed Review), we may choose to opt for a more natural, less ‘standard’ translation, or vice versa depending on the item at hand.

As for our process for reviewing and correcting mistakes, we have a spreadsheet where we log issues that have been raised. Our internal linguists then review this once a month, involving external linguists for the languages we don’t cover internally. Since many translation issues are subjective for the reasons mentioned above, we therefore generally need some discussion between two linguists who are native speakers of the target and source language to nail the nuances of the phrase and decide how to proceed. Of course, whenever we are made aware of any errors issues outside of this cycle that we can fix right away, we always do so.

Unfortunately, we can’t always reply to everyone who has flagged mistakes to explain whether or how they have been addressed due to time constraints. Responding can often open up a long discussion about the nuances of translation, language usage and meaning, and why translations aren’t always clear-cut, black and white decisions.

I hope this helps you understand a little better how we approach translations and correcting errors :slight_smile:

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I suppose “wise” and “judicious” are similar terms, but wise takes more depth, wise man is possessing supreme knowledge. Meaning one could be judicious in some aspects, but not wise overall.

I’ve checked ABBYY and Multitran dictionaries, in some sense they support my theory.

рассудительный; здравомыслящий; разумный; целесообразный


разумный; здравомыслящий

Nope, I don’t understand you, honestly. We are not talking about translation of a fiction book, you have pretty simple material. My educated guess is that someone just copypasted items from one English course into all others or was using Google translate without much ado about how it really translates. All your judicious :slight_smile: explanations don’t cover obvious errors or how it’s possible to translate a verb as a noun (faire du rafting as “рафтинг”, which is not a verb in Russian).

That’s a way to improve your courses, so engage in discussion. Compiling a list of incorrect translations takes a lot of time, too, I’m checking several dictionaries before reporting errors. Why it should be a one-way street?


Thanks for this! As I mentioned, we will have our French and Russian linguists discuss this to find the best solution. I don’t think that discussing translation issues via a third language, English, is necessarily the best way to tackle this.

This is true, but I think the point is that language is rarely ‘simple’ and there is rarely one unambiguous translation for most things. Our aim, as I mentioned, is to provide the most useful definition for a learner.

We do not do this, and I’m not sure how to convince you otherwise. Please see my previous message for some of the elements we consider when creating translations for courses.

Of course, if you have time, and are willing, we correct issues we receive from users, so your time isn’t wasted. However, we aren’t asking you to put yourself out to correct our courses. As I mentioned previously, in order to receive feedback from our users and improve our courses, we have created this form for users who would like to raise issues. You don’t need to check sources for yourself when raising an issue, as our linguists will do this ourselves.

Thank you for raising this issue, we will get this corrected as this is definitely a mistake. Verbs should always be translated as such.

I see errors with the same items through your courses, that’s why I think so. Here as an example how you did it with one specific item. If it’s not a copypaste, then what is it?

Italian: ingiusto - нечестный (correct translation - несправедливый, it’s somewhat differs from “нечестный”).

The same mistake is in French: injuste - нечестный
The same mistake is in Spanish: injusto - нечестный

It looks as if

a) someone used English as a source language (unfair?)
b) copypasted it into other courses

P.S. That’s how Google translates “faire du rafting”. Another coincidence. :slight_smile:

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Italian: l’arma del delitto - орудие убийства (Google translate has the same incorrect translation)
French: l’arme du crime - орудие убийства (Google translate has the same incorrect translation)
Correct: орудие преступления

Italian: la pistola - ружьё; пистолет
French: le pistolet - ружье; пистолет
Correct: пистолет

Italian: in pieno giorno - при свете дня
French: en plein jour - при свете дня
Correct: средь бела дня (in broad daylight, idiom)

Italian: rapinò la banca in pieno giorno - он ограбил банк при свете дня
French: il a volé la banque en plein jour - он ограбил банк при свете дня
Correct: он ограбил банк средь бела дня

Italian: sfortunatamente la polizia non riuscì a trovare l’arma del delitto - к сожалению, полиции не удалось найти орудие убийства
French: malheureusement la police n’a pas pu trouver l’arme du crime - к сожалению, полиция не смогла найти орудие убийства
Correct: к сожалению, полиции не удалось найти орудие преступления

I remember those times when you were not only reviewing, but also giving answers and explanations within 30 minutes. Such a pity it turned out this way.

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If you say so, buddy.