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Posts Tagged ‘Emily Dickinson’

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Photo: Amherst College
Amherst College holds the original of the only currently authenticated photograph of poet Emily Dickinson, a daguerreotype.

A follower of this blog is Romanian and has a blog with a feature I hadn’t seen before. When you click on an individual post, you get a drop-down menu on the right for choosing any language you want the post translated into. I have used English, of course, but I’ve also tried French and Esperanto.

This got me thinking about Google Translate, a terrific service but imperfect. And I thought, What if we played a game of Telephone with Google Translate? You remember Telephone, I’m sure. A group of people sit in a circle, and the first person whispers a phrase in the ear of the second, the second whispers it in the ear of the third, and so on. When you get to the end, the phrase is usually mangled in an interesting way. and everybody laughs about what they thought they heard. (I had fun playing Telephone with an ESL class last year. You can just imagine!)

For my experiment, I decided to use a bit of poetry by Emily Dickinson and translate it into different languages and back into English between languages. I stopped when I got a translation that was kooky enough for my taste.

Let me know if you can think of other ways to play the Google Translate game.

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all

“Esperanza” es la cosa con plumas –
Que se posa en el alma
Y canta la melodía sin las palabras –
Y nunca se detiene – en absoluto (Spanish)

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul
And sing the melody without the words –
And it never stops – at all

“Hope” est la chose avec des plumes –
Qui se perche dans l’âme
Et chante la mélodie sans les mots –
Et ça ne s’arrête jamais – du tout (French)

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
Who perches in the soul
And sing the melody without the words –
And it never stops – at all

“Hopp” är saken med fjädrar –
Vem perches i själen
Och sjunga melodin utan orden –
Och det slutar aldrig – alls (Swedish)

“Jump” is the case with feathers –
Who perches in the soul
And sing the melody without words –
And it never ends – at all

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