Monday, February 27, 2012

Tea, I Do Not Have To Wait To Go

As most people know, I am no poet. Once or twice I have tried to be poetic, but quickly I have come to the conclusion that poetry is one of those things - like singing, painting, acting, cooking, gardening, ice-skating, and shot-putting - that I was never intended to do. There are so many talented poets out there, my time is much better occupied in reading their works rather than attempting to compete with them. If you live next door to Picasso, don't paint your window sills: that's what I say.

But that doesn't stop me from playing with the words of others, and one of my favourite ways of doing that is via the wonderfully inventive medium of on-line machine translation. This particular game is easy to play. Simply take a well known verse, for example the opening lines of that splendid song, "Danny Boy". Take those lines and feed them into one of the many free, on-line translation sites (for example Google Translate). Translate them from English to Chinese, then from Chinese to Yiddish, from Yiddish to Hindi, Hindi to Japanese, and then finally back from Japanese to English. What you come up with is a kind of psychedelic anthem, a surrealistic ballad, an odd Irish Air.

The original verse goes as follows:-

"Oh Danny boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling
From glen to glen, and down the mountain side
The summer's gone, and all the roses falling
'Tis you, 'tis you must go and I must bide".

Repeated machine translation changes it with the subtlety of a fine pencil, infusing it with just enough mystery to make it exotic.

"Oh, Danny Boy pipes, pipes are calling
Downhill side of the valley
Disappears and summer, all rose the drop
Tea, I do not have to wait to go, "Tease" You are".

Oh Google Translate, tease indeed you are.


  1. Cute, but have you ever worried you may have too much time on your hands? ;>)

  2. This is irresistible to me! You know I will just have to try it.

    "Danny Boy" was my dad's absolutely most favourite song. This multi-translated version really seems to have retained an Asian flair.

    You always find the neatest things, Alan!

  3. I can see how the experience might be psychedelic and surrealistic but as for the results, well...
    Let's just say some things are best left in their own tongue.

  4. Oh this was really good, and I'm kind of a fan of Danny Boy, as my youngest is named Daniel....and of course we call him Danny! You just may be a poet and don't know it! Until you try!

  5. Brilliant! Thanks for the laugh :o)

  6. In your case, Alan, it was the curiosity that came calling. I'm so glad you answered.

  7. Oh Alan that is amazing. You do always fine fun things to try. Will put some of Kat's in there since I have her book. LOL

  8. You've ended up with a Zen koan!

  9. Tease you are indeed Alan! We use google translate a lot, as our Spanish is not the best. We usually re-translate the text by turning it back from Spanish to English to see if it ‘works’. What we get is often similar to your Danny Boy!

  10. Oh for a time to tease and to simplify.

  11. Oh dear! I may just have found a new time-waster.

  12. That's a pretty wild translation.
    When I was trying to demonstrate listening skills with kids I would start at the beginning of row with a sentence. The sentence was passed back five times. It was pretty interesting what the sentence was like at the end.

  13. And look what happens when you translate into French:

    "Oh Danny Boy, les tuyaux, les tuyaux sont appelant
    De Glen Glen, le long de la côté de la montagne
    L'été est parti, et toutes les roses tombant
    «C'est vous, c'est vous faut aller et je dois attendre le bon".

    It's a little hard to sing...

  14. I like this sort of thing. It is funny and worth a try!

  15. I'm just wondering how you made this startling Google translate discovery; picturing you sitting in a a polished wooden chair in your study, sighing about the vagaries of competing with established poets and musing on possible alternative forms of creative keyboardmanship when suddenly... Eureka!!

    Or, did you just read about it on google?

    Must try it :)

  16. That's fabulous. I love that kind of thing. My daughter (the Japanese student) often posts messages on Facebook for her Japanese friends and I love running them through the translate facility to see what they mean. It doesn't help!!!

  17. Sorry not to be around and commenting for a while. I've been embroiled in in a mixture of personal, work and writing stuff for a couple of weeks.

    I like this idea of a sort of instant poetry

  18. never thought of putting utilizing the online translation for such a purpose.

    you are a clever one alan!

  19. I love words and I love to play with words but I have never thought of doing this round-about translation thing that you've come up with, Alan. It's given me my nearly-midnight chuckle. Thanks.


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