Plain water and empty vessels: Auto-translation of Health Ministry Facebook post goes viral

PETALING JAYA: A Facebook post by the Health Ministry that was awkwardly auto-translated from Bahasa Malaysia to English made its rounds on social media recently.

The post on Monday (Jan 3) was to encourage the public to consume enough plain water as a New Year’s resolution, with the English text calling it “empty water” as a literal translation of “air kosong”.

A check by The Star found that the post was originally written in Bahasa Malaysia and automatically translated by the social media platform for each user who had the feature active.

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

Some users on Facebook shared screenshots of the English translation while making fun of the text without verifying that it did not originate from the Ministry, but was a product of the auto-translate feature.

The Ministry, however, later removed the post from Facebook, while the Bahasa Malaysia version remains on its other official social media platforms such as Twitter.

Facebook’s auto-translate feature is optional and can be turned on or off at each individual user’s settings page.