Monday, April 09, 2007

Divertimento with the translation*

Today's NaPo amusement: I took a poem of mine (older, pretty much finished) and ran it through Babelfish. I translated it from English to Italian to French and back into English, and then took the resulting fractured mess and edited it just enough to make it sound halfway like a poem. Maybe I'll post some snippets later on this week. It actually did -- as this exercise often does -- give me a new perspective on what I originally wrote, and turned up a few interesting phrases I may cannibalize for something someday.

Tomorrow: to Indianapolis, for the Arts Commission's peer-review panel in Literature. I'm nervous, oddly. I keep reminding myself that I won't know for sure about the grant for another couple months. But I'm sure I will learn a lot tomorrow. Should be fun.
*"Fun With Translation" taken from English to Italian to French to Dutch to English


Lyle Daggett said...

I got a real laugh once trying the Google language translation function. I tried having it translate a poem from Spanish (by Lorca, if I remember right) -- Spanish being a language I can read somewhat functionally -- and the results were alternately otherworldly and ludicrous. It's not able to translate in context.

For example, with the name "San Antonio" (which might be the city of San Antonio or the person Saint Anthony), the Google program might translate it as "holy Anthony."

I haven't run across Babelfish before, I'll have to check it out. Sounds like fun.

Lyle Daggett said...

I just went to Babelfish and had it translate William Blake's poem "The Sick Rose," from English to French, from French to Portuguese, from Portuguese back to French, from French to Dutch, and from Dutch to English.

After going through the laundry that many times, here's how Blake's poem turned out (I've restored the line breaks and the capitals at the beginning of each line):

Sick Rose

Thou rose of him are difficulty!
The invisibly maggot
Which flies to night,
In urro gives the attack,

The bed thy of
Crimson joy discovered,
And is dark secret love
Does living thy destroys.

And so it goes: "The green and the sensitivity of the inglese earth are good."

Peter said...

I *love* playing with Babel Fish this way. I agree, it can be very reavealing, some of the non sequiters and malaprops and reorderings that come out.