Friday, January 7, 2011

Speaking in Tongue Twisters = Lost in Translation

Graphic courtesy of A Pale Pink Proud Peacock
IMUNURI posted an interesting idea - Do something different...with your poetry that's unlike anything you'd normally do.  For reasons that I cannot entirely explain (other than the fact that this was - well, different), the idea of getting lost in translation came to mind.

So...I chose a poem I'd written last month which was more or less a Free Verse-ish sort of poem.  I chose that one because 1.) rhyme and metrics can really get messed up in a scary way when you use online translators such as BabelFish, which is what I used, and
2.) the thought of a tongue twister theme in another language seemed cool.  Here's what happened:

My original poem, as written in English:

Tongue Twister

I split a sheet…
Isn’t that how the tongue twister starts?
Then, you’re sup­posed to say some­thing
which sounds kind of like naughty words,
but in a way
but which largely exists
just to embar­rass you.

From there, as translated into French:

Tornade de langue

J'ai dédoublé une feuille… N'est pas que comment la tornade de langue démarre ? Puis, vous êtes censé dire quelque chose qui ressemble un peu à des mots vilains, mais d'une certaine manière n'est pas mais qui existe en grande partie vous embarrasser juste.

Then, into Spanish:

Tornado de lengua

J' duplicaron una hoja… N' ¿no es que cómo el tornado de lengua empieza? Luego, es supuestos declaración algo que se asemeja un poco a palabras desagradables, pero d' una determinada manera n' no es pero que existe en gran parte desconcertarle exactamente.

And finally, back to English:

Tornado of J' language;

they duplicated a leaf… N' it is not that how the language tornado begins? Then, declaration is supposed something that resembles a little disagreeable words, but d' a certain way n' it is not but that exists to a large extent to disturb to him exactly.



  1. That's a twister of more than just the tongue! But ha ha, that's usually the result I get on my FIRST translation... laugh ought laud!!!

  2. nice sharing about the translation, i really like this and i hope that every one will find it help full just like i find it help full
    thanks to share


  3. It's like a game of Chinese Whisper!
    A very interesting experiment.

  4. How cool! I love the way it came back with "language tornado." That's just an awesome way to phrase it.

  5. Thanks, Viv and E! It was a lot of fun to see what would happen. Some really unusual results came out of it, but I like it, just the same.

  6. RJ, a very clever poem and it made me laugh. I love how the translation ended up at the end. Being an English teacher in Spanish speaking country. It reminds me of some of my students, who try to translate everything.

  7. Thanks, Pamela! And how fascinating about your students. I'll bet some of their translations end up being very interesting! ☼

  8. wow, you are superb girl,
    know 4 languages?

    what a wholesome entry.
    Thanks for the inspirations.


  9. Thanks, Jingle. I wish I could actually say I knew a lot of languages, but the truth is, for this particular poem project, I used an online translator. I have, however, studied at various times, French, Spanish, Hebrew and Japanese.

    This exercise makes me want to pick language study up again! ☼

  10. cool sharing- hope you will find mine enthralling haha!