Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Dangerous poetry

As a romance novelist, I tend to brake for articles like this one at Dumb Little Man. Aimed at men who want to please the women they love, the piece is entitled, "50 Very Simple Ways to Be Romantic." Here's suggestion number 3:

Write a poem. Then use Google Translator to translate a poem into either French or Italian. Then handwrite it out with the translation on the back side....

That sounded like a cute idea, but I worried that it might land some very sweet gentlemen in Deep Trouble with their ladies. So I conducted a (wildly unscientific) test, which I began by composing this short poem:

Darling, I love you; I am so glad you're mine.
Your eyes are like stars and your lips are divine.
Your touch is so thrilling, I crave it like wine.
I am yours, my sweet, 'til the end of all time.

Ahem. Well. It was the best I could do after a solid two minutes of thought. But it was sufficient, I judged, for the purposes of my test, so I clicked over to the Google translator. Here's my poem in French:

Darling, Je t'aime, je suis si heureux que vous mine.
Vos yeux sont comme des étoiles et vos lèvres sont divines.
Votre contact est tellement passionnant, je solliciterai il comme le vin.
Je suis vôtre, ma douce, jusqu'à la fin de tous les temps.

Wow. That looks very sexy. Unfortunately, I don't speak French, so I have no idea whether it's a clear translation or not. I asked Google to translate the French into German and got this:

Darling, ich liebe dich, ich bin so glücklich, dass du mine.
Deine Augen sind wie die Sterne, und deine Lippen sind königlich.
Ihr Ansprechpartner ist so spannend, wie ich es anfordern Wein.
Ich bin Ihr, meine süsse, bis zum Ende aller Zeiten.

That looks very pretty, but I don't speak German, either. And after I got the translation, I realized that the suggestion had been to present the poem in French or Italian. But Google offers no German-to-Italian option, so I just asked to have my poem switched back to English. And then...

Horrors! What has Google done to my poem?

Darling, I love you, I am so happy that you are mine.
Your eyes are like the stars, and your lips are royalty.
Your contact is so exciting, as I request wine.
I am you, my sweet, to the end of all time.

Goodness. And I thought it was a bad poem before the translations.

In conclusion, gentlemen, the Google translator is not a safe toy. Using it in this way could seriously damage your relationship. Even if your beloved doesn't speak French, you know very well that she'd show your poem to all of her friends who do. And how do you think she'd react when told that you think she looks like an ostrich and smells like a cow?

I wouldn't risk it. Rather than present your lady with a love poem in a language you don't speak fluently, stick with the tried-and-true. Flowers, chocolates, and diamonds are never wrong.


Douglas Cootey said...

It is difficult polluted. It was because his love is in metaphorical images. (Translated by Google from the English into French in the German into English. What a joy!)

Douglas Cootey said...

-... . ... .. -.. . ... --..-- / .-. . .- .-.. / -- . -. / ... .--. . .- -.- / - .... . .. .-. / .-.. --- ...- . / .. -. / -- --- .-. ... . / -.-. --- -.. .


Domino said...

Hilarious! I love the fun poem translator game.

Obviously, it could cause a bit of trouble. This is romantic comedy kind of stuff.

Love it. Thanks.

Shauna said...

Tee,hee. Loved it.

Flowers, chocolates, and diamonds are never wrong.


Julie Carobini said... it! I'll let hubby know :)

DG said...

Anyone out there still writing poems their beloved can get it to me for translation, I speak Italian! :D

ForstRose said...

I don't speak German but the French appears to be pretty on-target. However based on the English from the German from the French I would guess that the further you get from your original language of the piece the more twisted it gets. Sort of an opposite of degrees of separation. Any translation is going to be a bit off when done by computer as I'm assuming Google's application does simply because the darn thing will take whatever is input literally. To get the full sense of the metaphors and other figurative language that poetry is apt to use it would take a human translator who is well versed in both the languages involved or all if more than two are used. But your comment to avoid using the translator for "love" poems is a good idea unless you are looking for a personal laugh of course and the special someone who might otherwise receive such from you is never any the wiser that the one you used on a computer translator application ever existed.
Guys who really want to score points will be smart enough to stick with the tried and true.

Cora Buhlert said...

My French isn't good enough to comment on the quality of the poem, but the German version looks tolerable until you get to the third line, where it suddenly says something about contacting someone to order wine. Which quite neatly reveals the weakness of the system, it is very much focussed on business needs and so it chose business speak over other meanings of the same words which would have been more appropriate in this context.

Google Translation, Babelfish and similar services have their uses, when faced with a text in a language you don't understand. But they are in no way reliable.

Valerian said...

I laughed so hard. It would have been loud too except everyone in the household was sleeping and I didn't want to wake them.

Brenda Coulter said...

Douglas, thanks for the laugh. It's been a while since I've seen anything in Morse Code.

As I'm sure you all have guessed, I wasn't looking for an honest translation but just wanted to poke fun at Google's translator.