Playing with translation errors

En altres paraulesBy now we all know that automatic translation has its limitations. Over the last few years the mistakes of Google Translate and other similar systems have given rise to incredulity, curiosity, games and even art forms.

Starting with art forms, right now there’s an exhibition in Barcelona that celebrates the use of automatic translation errors as a stimulus for artistic creativity:

Irene Solà, Nenazas, Jan Monsalvatje, Hidrogenesse… Son algunos de los artistas y colectivos artísticos que, en la exposición En altres paraules, que se inaugura hoy en Can Felipa, han utilizado los errores de traducción como materia prima para sus creaciones artísticas. Veréis como un error se convierte… ¡en pura poesía!

Conozced la cara más poética del error en En altres paraules, una exposición que se puede visitar en el Centre Cívic Can Felipa (Pallars, 277) del 27 de enero al 28 de marzo. Entrada libre.

(from the Cara B Barcelona Cultura web)

Moving on to games, these are usually a variation of the Translation Telephone game, which is itself inspired by the Chinese Whispers party game. In one version of the Translation Telephone game you send a sentence to Google Translate, translate it through 15 languages or so, and then back to the original language. Then you compare the final version to the original text and have a good laugh.

There used to be several Translation Telephone portals where you could “play” but most of these have stopped working since Google starting charging for third-party use of its translation engine. There are, however, some that still work most of the time. Try Lost in Translation Agency, for example.  Some people even enjoy recording pop songs that have been mangled in this way.

Thanks to Núria Camps for proposing an article on this subject.

Richard Samson

I’m a teacher living in Osona, Spain. I'm into tennis, dogs, and chickens. I’m also interested in translation and Moodle (well, digital tools for teaching, in general).
Richard Samson

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Richard Samson

About Richard Samson

I’m a teacher living in Osona, Spain. I'm into tennis, dogs, and chickens. I’m also interested in translation and Moodle (well, digital tools for teaching, in general).
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