Google Translate mistranslates new Shepherds Reign single

By Bronson Perich
Shepherds Reign band members starting from the left - Guitarist Gideon Voon (Ngāti Hainamana), Bassist Joseph Oti-George (Ngāpuhi), Vocalist Filiva'a James (Ngāti Hāmoa), Drummer Shaymen Rameka (Ngāi te Rangi, Te Arawa), and Guitarist Oliver Leupolu (Ngāti Hāmoa). / Source - Facebook

Shepherds Reign fans, desperate to understand their new Samoan language single, Le Manu, have resorted to Google Translate for help. The results, to say the least, are interesting.

While the majority of the translation is accurate, inaccuracies show up when translating words like "tau", which can mean either fight, battle, cost or price.

Google Translates rendition of the chorus for Le Manu. / Source - File

Similar confusion happens when Google confuses the meaning of the word "faiva" which can mean mission or ministry. Google translates it as fisheries. 

Google Translates rendition of the first verse for Le Manu. / Source - File.

To help fans connect to their music with accuracy, Lead singer Filiva’a James has released a translation of the single. Te Ao was fortunate to have James break down down its meaning, starting with the single's name.

“What I’ve done is purposely put ‘Le Manu’ as the title and the chorus as the meaning of Manu, the beast.”

Le Manu is a reinterpretation of the Samoan Siva Tau, the haka performed by the Samoan rugby union team named Manu Samoa before every game. The Siva Tau, like our haka and moteatea has different layers of meaning. James speaks with the original layer:

“There was actually a warrior called Manu Samoa, and the songs about him, done by their village in Faleali’i.”

James then reveals the layer that he added, and the relevance it has to them as a band on the come up.

“Instead of fighting a war, you know, go and spread our story, and sing our songs and perform to the best we can, to the world.”

When the Samoan rugby team perform the Siva Tau, they are seeking to receive the mana and power of their ancestor Manu Samoa into themselves. James used the same parallel when writing Le Manu.

“So having both the person Manu and the meaning of Manu mixed in this one song.”

Shepherds Reign new single - Le Manu. / Source - YouTube

The translation, provided by Filiva’a James is below.

Intro:

Samoa. Sauni e tau le taua! - Samoa, prepare for battle!

Ia tau matua tau - Fight well and with your all!

Ia fai ia mafai - Do what must be done to win!

Le Manu sau ia! - Manu, gather now!

V1:

Le Manu Samoae, ia manu le fai o le faiva - Manu Samoa, may you complete this mission at hand.

Le Manu Samoae, ia manu le fai o le faiva - Manu Samoa, may you complete this mission at hand.

Le Manu Samoa lenei ua ou sau - I have come now.

Leai se isi manu o le atulaulau - There is nothing else in the universe that compares.

Ua ou sau nei ma le mea atoa - I come now to this battle, bringing my all.

O lo’u malosi ua atoatoa - My strength is complete.

Ia e faatafa ma e soso ese - Make way and step aside.

Leaga o lenei manu e uiga ese - Because this beast is unique.

Le Manu Samoa - Manu Samoa.

Le Manu Samoa - Manu Samoa.

Le Manu Samoa e o mai Samoa! ­­- Manu Samoa – so come now Samoa!

CH:

Tau ia malo - Fight for your homeland.

Aua ne’i malolo - Don’t rest until victorious.

Tula’i Samoa - Samoa stand proud and defiantly.

Tau matua tau - Fight with your all!

Fai ia mafai - Do what must be done to win!

Le Manu! - The beast!

V2:

Le Manu Samoa ia tafetoto ou ala - Manu Samoa your path be filled with enemy blood.

Le Manu Samoa malamalama ou mata - Manu Samoa your vision be clear.

Le Manu Samoa tau ia matua tau - Manu Samoa – fight the good fight!

Lou atunu’u pele ia tu malaulau - My beloved homeland stands firm!

Ia aua ne’i galo lau tapuaiga - Don't forget your loyal supporters.

Si ou atunuu ma lou aiga - Nor your country and your family.

Mua’au le Atua manuia ou faiva - May the Gods bless your mission with success.

O ou fili uma e te lepetiaina - As you crush all your enemies.

Le Manu Samoa - Manu Samoa.

Le Manu Samoa - Manu Samoa.

Le Manu Samoa e o mai Samoa - Manu Samoa – so come now Samoa!

CH:

Tau ia malo - Fight for your homeland.

Aua ne’i malolo - Don’t rest until victorious.

Tula’i Samoa - Samoa stand proud and defiantly.

Tau matua tau - Fight with your all!

Fai ia mafai - Do what must be done to win!

Le Manu! - The beast!

The music video for Le Manu has been viewed over half a million times on YouTube, within less three weeks of its release. The new single has helped the band increase its visibility in the international metal music scene. This is in turn, feeds the demand for an English translation.

Shepherds Reign are preparing to be the opening act for the Corrosion of Conformity tour of Aotearoa in February. A Google spokesperson responded to our enquiries, saying:

"Google Translate is an automatic translator, using patterns from millions of existing translations to help decide on the best translation for the user.

"Unfortunately, some of those patterns can lead to incorrect translations.

"Google constantly reviews and makes improvements to pronunciations in all languages, and as newer technologies are released, we’ll continue to see even greater improvement."