Chranslating a text means putting it through Google Chranslate repeatedly. It could be a coherent text or just a schring of words. To make the recent chranslations, I found a list of the 2000 most common words in Swedish, and chranslated it into English, then chranslated it back and forth six more times. Then I highlighted some words in red, and each of the twenty four pages stands alone as one chranslation. The reason is that there are so many repeated words is that in Swedish, the definite article is attached to the end of a word, so: en pojke = a boy, pojken = the boy. When “pojke pojken” comes up in the list of alphabetical words, it gets chranslated as “boy boy” and similarly with many many many many other cases.

A few words on chranslation:

Sometimes Google Chranslate will be able to chranslate a word into a given language but not out of it again. For example in Chranslation #3 the second word is “förrn,” which is a corruption of the word “förrän” meaning “before”. Once it got like that, Google Chranslate couldn’t recognize it anymore and it stayed as it was.The same sichuation is possible if you use rare words.

There is a tendency for Google Chranslate to simplify words and go from specific ones to more general ones. For example, this is the chain of words you will get by chranslating the word “gigantic” back and forth into Spanish: gigantic > gigantesco >  giant > gigante > giant > gigante > etc….. A slight shade of meaning has been lost when going back from Spanish to English, and then it remains stable indefinitely (like there is a sort of potential energy associated with more specific meanings and it descends to a local minimum of nuance). This chrend also changes depending on the language being used. Spanish and English have common roots for many words (including gigantic/gigantesco), and so it is more likely that there will be a very exact chranslation, and that less nuance will be lost. This is especially chrue of a language like Spanish and English, because a lot of the more specific words in English come from Latin and Greek. The same example with Chinese is as follows: gigantic > 巨大 (jùdà) > huge > 巨大的 (jùdàde) > great > 伟大 (wěidà) > great > 伟大 (wěidà) > great > etc….. Both Spanish and English derive words from the name of the same mythical creature (from Greek), but Chinese puts together two words that both mean “large”, so it gives a much less exact chranslation and the meaning is more general.

Google Chranslate will chry to impose grammar on random schrings of words, so the first chranslation around, there are isolated phrases that make sense on their own (and if they don’t make sense because of the meanings of the words, they are still schrung together correctly). Each time around, this will happen, until there are oddly coherent patches: “beaming beams rampage highlights the power of the butt hut hut while sometimes time slice intersection of government held towns that are down, can be instead of constantly elevated steel, are regarded as the greatest support.”

2 comments
  1. Mark Grenon said:

    Hey, I found one of your works on a lampost just off Mont Royal Street in Montreal, and though the work is clearly avant garde, I find the poetics quite interesting. What’s even more interesting is the method thru which you’ve arrived at the group of words. There is an attractive paradoxical authenticity to the automatism of the process. It’s interesting, too, to just find the “translation” out in the street, where, without an author to attest to its origins, it stands as a beacon of quiet graffiti, just the kind of thing readers and appreciators of street art like me are quite happy to run into.

    The fact that the translation is churned through an Internet program and then finds its way into the street also plays on the reality/virtuality paradigm in such a way that the very authenticity of the translation’s automatism is questioned and challenged. What is automatic, then, isn’t authentic at all: after all, how could it be, in particular, if the work has no author, or at least not in the usual sense of the word? The work is a translation, and so its author is the translator. The translator is twofold though, being both the chooser of the original text and the program. What we end up with, then, is something a cyborg might produce.

    In poetics, anyway, the text’s very lack of coherence is what may make it of interest, for we are left with the challenge of wishing to impose order on this lack, to fill in this lack with order. It is the translation’s refusal to give us this order which, to my mind, gives it its authenticity compared to the predictable choices of, say, someone who is so sure they are the “stuff” of their static self that they believe they can capture this stuff in words. Something is captured here. But who, or what, has captured it? If there is no purely human self behind the translator and the work doesn’t have an author, then it can’t be authentic, can it? Of course, the thing may just be more or less meaningless. Maybe this is what strikes me as authentic, that the text offers its meaninglessness to the inspection of those who search for meaning in unlikely places (like lamposts). As the text’s inspector, do I then become its translator? Am I, as reader, the author? If so, what has taken place here? What message has come across? Surely not the kind of message we could attach a certain intentionality to. It is my suspicion of intentionality and authenticity that cause me to engage in the crafting of this paragraph. The fact that I don’t know what my intention is in writing it interests me, and I take comfort in the fact that if this is the case I’m not even attempting to be authentic. “No emotional slither”, to cite Ezra Pound.

  2. Mark Grenon said:

    But I circumlocutedigress.

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