Saturday, July 30, 2005

Playing with Babelfish

A little too much time on my hands. This is the original (first paragraph from "Grace for the Sinner"):

"Grace came home in the springtime, when dogwoods declared the glory of Christ Resurrected, spreading white-robed arms over the azaleas that covered the Earth in blood and fire. The air was heavy with the scents of honeysuckle and wisteria and the old houses stood haughty and aloof, dozing in the warmth as they dreamed their gray and dusty dreams of glories past and the giants that had walked the Earth in days of old."

English -> Japanese -> English :

"Elegance when declaring Christ's glory which spring the dogwood revives, the earth of the blood and the fire came to the robed arm starting point where the extent on azaleas which is overturned is white. That you looked at the dream where the air smell of ????? is heavy, dream of gray and the ? ? being lazy the earth it is old with the giant and glory many day making walk passes, wisteria and the old house stands haughtiness, simultaneously, stiffly drowses at the warmth."

This means something. Have a weird weekend.


At 6:13 PM, Blogger Jean said...

Hmm. Perhaps I should keep this Babelfish handy for interpreting my international students' writings. I suspect half the trouble I have figuring out what they are saying is a result of translation like what you just depicted. Most of them speak well, but writing is tough. Despite that, I'm amazed at how well they do. For some of them English is a fourth or fifth language. For me, it's my only language. I couldn't do nearly as well in ANY other language, and there are days when my English ain't so hot either.

At 4:50 PM, Blogger Carter said...

I love to do this with ideogram-based languages like Chinese, Japanese, etc. Plain, literal English entences so often come back very poetic. I think it's because those languages are so deeply rooted in metaphor. At the same time, English is so idiomatic that people who are not native speakers have a hard time understanding it. The figures of speech we use don't translate to other cultures and vice-versa. Makes for some interesting conversations sometimes.

My only forays into foreign languages were Latin in high school and French in college. Never did quite get a handle on either one.

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At 6:25 PM, Blogger Carter said...

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