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Creepy Needs No Translation
January 27, 2016 - By: - In: In the News / Awards - Comments Off on Creepy Needs No Translation

“Sex sells” is an old marketing adage, but I don’t think sexual harassment is included in that category. I know it’s hard to stand out in a crowded language services marketplace, but a new translation tool, ili, is making headlines for all the wrong reasons.

Ili is an interesting concept; a translation device you wear around your neck when you travel. As you speak English, it will translate whatever you say into Japanese or Chinese so nearby listeners can understand what you are saying. As someone whose Chinese skills are nonexistent, I can certainly see the benefits of this. On the other hand, spoken automatic translation in an uncontrolled soundscape sounds like a recipe for misunderstanding. But since I haven’t worn an ili yet, I’ve got to reserve judgement on how well it works.

Actually, it’s the ili promo video that has me scratching my head. In it a British guy, using an ili, tries to get random Japanese girls to kiss him. In theory, I think the video could have been executed with class. Unfortunately, this is not what happened. Sure, the ili looks great, but the British guy quickly reveals himself to be the type of man that women worldwide actively try to avoid.

He tells one girl in a park that it’s normal in the UK to kiss strangers. When she gets spooked and runs away, he runs after her and keeps asking for a kiss.

He tries grabbing a girl’s arm and she angrily pushes him away and leaves. Is this the outtakes we’re watching? Who thought this was a good idea?

While painful to listen to, the British guy does manage to get a couple laughs from cheesy pick-up lines.

Then in the last frame he does weasel his way into a kiss, from a random woman he awkwardly pressures, pulls towards him and tells that no one is watching. Liar. It’s on video. Yick.

Even though I’m probably just encouraging them, here’s the video:

PS In a telling move, the company added the following text to the end of the video: “UPDATE: In light of viewer feedback, we would like to clarify that the women in this video are all actresses; no one was forced to act against their will in any way.”

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