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I mess around with this stuff all the time, usually translating french poetry into english, more for the fun of seeing what the computer would make of the sonority of the language. Derrida would say that translators always make a limiting choice (limiting the potentially infinite 'semantic slippage' in the language which can outstrip the function of the text) between sound and sense. These sorts of programs haven't gotten that sophisticated that they can handle making those sorts of choices, I wonder how far off that is? I tried this line of Yves Bonnefoy's for instance in Babel Fish and Google language tools and got:

Ce qui fut sans lumiere.

What was without light.

Although Free Translation somehow couldn't come up with 'lumiere' which I don't get - sometimes arcane words or less common words don't work but it came up with:

This that was without lumiere.

Here's what interests me is that this line should be translated (I think) as 'that which was without light' although the collection that it titles is translated for the english market as 'In the Shadow's Light' although I have even heard translations as far afield as 'in the shadow of the rim of brightness' (conveying more sound than sense). Clearly I love this stuff (language(s).

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I think lumière has an accent in it, that's probably why the translator isn't picking it up

and translating poetry? fuggetaboutit

hell, i would imagine that only the top-notch translators of the real world even get a chance to officially translate poetry. and those efforts are hotly contested i'd imagine

Edited by Guest
sacre merde
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