I thoroughly love online translation tools

Handwriting from 17th century. Nalan Xingde was a Machu poet, scholar and calligrapher.

Handwriting from 17th century. Nalan Xingde was a Machu poet, scholar and calligrapher.

长相思

(清)纳兰性德

山一程,

水一程,

身向榆关那畔行,

夜深千帐灯。

风一更,

雪一更,

聒碎乡心梦不成,

故园无此声。

The point is, well, some time back I was assigned by a Dutch TV production company to translate/localise a children’s television series for the Chinese market. A job’s a job, as  usual I started immediately. A few days later, my client telephoned me, and he complained a little bit about the “European” (=my) prices why is it necessary so and so. It turned out that a translation agency in Shanghai had approached him and quoted their current rates.

Of course, I went to check out the agency’s website at once and found an online translator. I typed in the poem by Nalan to be tough in the toughest sport of all ;P. This is the output:

Lights in mountain, “Sauvignon Blanc” (clear) a ride, water, a process the body to the elm off banks OK, late at night, 1,000 accounts lights. Wind, snow one more Mighty broken Township heart dream is not, Brideshead Revisited is no such sound.

Poetry  is what gets lost in translation? I don’t think so.

The moral of the story is I got the job in the end because I told my client I’m the best. He believed me. But I do love Shanghai translation tool!

“Translation is the art of failure.” Yes, Umberto Eco.

“The original is unfaithful to the translation.” Yes, Jorge Luis Borges.

“…but fantastic writing in translation is the summit.” Doubly so.  This line is dedicated to my/all translators.

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