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Google Translate Toolkit

Google Translate Toolkit is a new webapp from Google to help translate webpages. Video demonstration (1:30s). It has built-in support for Wikipedia and Jay Walsh thinks it "may change the way Wikipedia grows in other languages".1
posted by stbalbach on Jun 9, 2009 - 29 comments

Tell me a secret.

Published speculation first appeared in 1911, although others point to 1945 for its first modern phrasing. It originally looked like a flashlight on Star Trek. In Star Wars, it walked, talked, and was fluent "in over six million forms of communication." Many narratives have just abandoned the idea entirely.
Previous iterations have been quite limited in scope, but now it appears that the first learning, dynamic universal translator has finally arrived. And its futuristic aesthetic has been relegated to fiction in favor of a much more familiar object. [more inside]
posted by hpliferaft on May 23, 2009 - 30 comments

"Chinese poetry, as we know it today, is something invented by Ezra Pound." - T. S. Eliot

[Ezra Pound] worked on and for poetry as others might work on a major scientific discovery or a drawn-out military mission. Thus, as Sieburth reminds us in his introduction to The Pisan Cantos, when, on May 3, 1945, Pound was arrested at his home in the hills above Rapallo, he immediately put a small Chinese dictionary and a copy of the Confucian classics in his pocket. Working as he then was on his Confucian translations, he knew that, wherever the military police were taking him, he would need these books.
From Pound Ascendant by Marjorie Perloff. Ezra Pound's ability as a translator of Chinese poetry has long been disparaged by sinologists, such as George A. Kennedy in Fenollosa, Pound and the Chinese Character. Other academics have sought to defend him. Two examples are Zhaoming Qian's Ezra Pound's encounter with Wang Wei: toward the "ideogrammic method" of the Cantos and Stephen Tapscott's In Praise of Bad Translations: Ezra Pound and the Cultural Work of Translation (pdf). Eric Hayot draws the contours of this long-running debate and explores its significance in Critical Dreams: Orientalism, Modernism, and the Meaning of Pound's China. Pound's Cathay in full and a public domain audiobook version (iTunes link).
posted by Kattullus on Apr 30, 2009 - 16 comments

I'm a walnut, or a female AV star

Nihongodict is an AJAXy online Japanese-English dictionary. The list of matches auto-updates as you type. You can enter (or paste in) romaji, Kanji or kana, and use character maps for hiragana and katakana. Results can be bookmarked. [more inside]
posted by kurumi on Mar 26, 2009 - 36 comments

Höpöhöpö Böks!

Eiríkur Örn Norðdahl is an Icelandic poet. He translates Icelandic poetry into English (I particularly like his versions of Sigfús Daðason), and he has an interesting interview on Icelandic poetry ("Curiously enough, back in the days the nationalists would sometimes write in danish. And writing in a foreign language was more or less seen as the only alternative to literature being a mere hobby until Halldór Laxness came along"). But really this is an elaborate excuse to post a link to Höpöhöpö Böks: Köld öld Böks mjög örg, Ölböl örlög Böks! (Warning: My wife thought the linked video sounded like vomiting.) Via wood s lot. This one goes out to my man Kattullus; hope you can stick around! [more inside]
posted by languagehat on Feb 17, 2009 - 12 comments

The Gawain Project

The Gawain Project is an ongoing translation of the late 14th century anonymous poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (originally written in Middle English) into Modern English, for the amusement of Arthurians and anyone who likes a good story. [via mefi projects]
posted by Effigy2000 on Feb 13, 2009 - 18 comments

Yes, they really are bird-people

Have you ever wondered how Samus got all her powers? I mean, really, how does a simple back-planet girl learn to use this mysterious Chozo technology?
posted by cthuljew on Jan 18, 2009 - 21 comments

Twenty-nine Tao te Chings.

Twenty-nine Tao te Chings, a line at a time. For Sunday evening, a spare, meditative post. The Tao-te-Ching in 29 translations, line by line and side by side. I'll leave you to investigate the writings on your own; here alone are just the words to consider. Suggested: Mitchell. [more inside]
posted by Tufa on Jan 11, 2009 - 99 comments

Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius

Norman Thomas di Giovanni, translator for the 20th century Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges's has recently posted on his web-site, his translation of Tlon, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius, one of his most well known and greatest short stories.
posted by Fizz on Dec 9, 2008 - 14 comments

International literature websites

Fiction in Translation: How to Find the Year's Best. [more inside]
posted by stbalbach on Dec 6, 2008 - 6 comments

Paradise Lost in Translation

A new 'prose translation' of Milton's classic poem has been written by Prof Dennis Danielson in an effort to help make it available to a wider audience, if they find the original language too difficult. Apparently he wasn't the first to think of it, but considers his a translation rather than a retelling, and it is printed as a dual edition / parallel text. [more inside]
posted by mdn on Dec 1, 2008 - 42 comments

John Lee Hooker and the fine art of translation

You know, I want you to pick up on this. You know, these lyrics are something else. Just dig this. [more inside]
posted by flapjax at midnite on Nov 21, 2008 - 20 comments

Thus did the sons of the Heike vanish forever from the face of the earth.

The Tale of the Heike (Heike Monogatari) is a medieval Japanese account of the rise and fall of the Taira clan and has inspired many other works of art. Click on the chapters and scroll down to see Heike illustrations (or start here), see more art or figures inspired by the Heike. Would you rather read? [more inside]
posted by ersatz on Nov 16, 2008 - 10 comments

Mother 3 Fan Translation

Mother 3 fan translation completed. Earthbound (known as Mother 2 in Japan) is one of the most highly regarded RPGs for the Super Nintendo. The game suffered disappointing sales in America, but has since gained the status of a cult classic. A sequel, Mother 3, was released for the Game Boy Advance, but it has never been officially translated into English. After a long development, a fan translation patch has just been released. Trailer. [more inside]
posted by painquale on Oct 17, 2008 - 44 comments

Translated for Courage

“I have seen many Anne Franks in Cambodia....Under Pol Pot, many children were separated from their families. They faced starvation and were sent to the front to fight and die,” she explains. “Like Anna, they never knew peace and the warmth of a home.” Translated by Sayana Ser with help from the Dutch embassy in Cambodia (Kampuchea, Khmer), The Diary of Anne Frank has now become one of the most popular and discussed books in this war-torn country.
posted by parmanparman on Oct 7, 2008 - 7 comments

Gilbert Alter-Gilbert

An interview with translator (and critic and literary historian) Gilbert Alter-Gilbert.
posted by Wolfdog on Aug 28, 2008 - 10 comments

Translation with a time limit

Adventures in European subtitling. "With films like these I often feel like I am some sort of firefighter trying to salvage as much as I can from an immense burning mansion. You take out the expensive furniture and artwork and all the people and you leave behind the wallpaper, the rugs, the goldfish tank and the occasional poodle. Sorry, folks, no time." via
posted by Knappster on Aug 5, 2008 - 77 comments

Interpreting Due Process

An Interpreter Speaking Up for Migrants: Erik Camayd-Freixas is a professor and a legal translator who assisted in the fast-track trial and sentencing of the over 400 illegal immigrant workers in Postville, Iowa, who were arrested on criminal charges involving identity theft rather than the usual deportation proceedings. Unusually for a court interpreter, who maintain a strict code of impartiality and neutrality, Camayd-Freixas spoke out, writing "that the immigrant defendants whose words he translated, most of them villagers from Guatemala, did not fully understand the criminal charges they were facing or the rights most of them had waived." [more inside]
posted by Forktine on Jul 11, 2008 - 46 comments

In the bowels of the beast

Doug Skinner translates Paul Vibert's House of Flesh and Bone, a short story about living inside large animals. Part 2. Part 3. via
posted by klangklangston on Jul 10, 2008 - 1 comment

Wordchamp: hover over a foreign-language word and get its definition

Wordchamp lets you view foreign-language web pages with definitions in your language as mouseovers (registration-only). [more inside]
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane on Jul 5, 2008 - 10 comments

Turkish Literary Delights

A Mid-summer Night's Story - one of hundreds of novels, poems, and tales in English translation at Suat Karantay's Contemporary Turkish Literature pages. Also: Turkish Poetry in Translation (the side-by-side translations of Dağlarca are particularly well-done), and selected stories of childhood & youth from Turkish authors in the mid 20th century.
posted by Wolfdog on Jun 25, 2008 - 4 comments

Jacques Brel et compagnie

YouTube user lightning49 has 160 of videos of French singers which she has subtitled with her translations. Her biggest collection is of Jacques Brel videos but there are also songs performed by George Brassens, Charles Aznavour, Edith Piaf as well as a smattering of other stuff. To start you off with a few songs here are three of my favorite songs by Brel, Je suis un soir d'éte, Le moribond and La valse à mille temp along with Charles Aznavour's La boheme, Edith Piaf's Milord and Georges Brassens' Les passantes.
posted by Kattullus on Feb 13, 2008 - 13 comments

And a little bit of mystery goes out of your life ...

Bob: "______________” Charlotte (Johansson): “Okay.” Lost in Translation's mysterious whisper finale revealed by audio processing. (via kottke)
posted by WCityMike on Dec 13, 2007 - 154 comments

The coolest dictionary known to hombre

Lingro. Enter a website in the box to make all words on the page clickable. Available for English, Spanish, French, German, Italian and Polish.
posted by Lezzles on Nov 20, 2007 - 15 comments

Music crossing languages.

Claude François was one of France's most successful popstars, a complete song-and-dance act who remained at the top of the charts for almost ten years before his career was tragically cut short when he tried to change a lightbulb while in the bath (youtube ahead). [more inside]
posted by jacalata on Nov 11, 2007 - 19 comments

Bilingual Homophonic Translations

Bilingual homophonic translations
posted by fermezporte on Nov 11, 2007 - 33 comments

Translation can be hard.

A Wicked Deception (youtube). A fun look at (multi) round-trip machine translation. Sadly, it is a simple fattening of Verbindungsyoutube. Of course, humans, as Jules Verne might tell you, can have problems with translations too. [more inside]
posted by skynxnex on Sep 27, 2007 - 13 comments

The Sumerian Language

Sumerian is the first language for which we have written evidence and its literature the earliest known. The Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature, a project of the University of Oxford, comprises a selection of nearly 400 translated literary compositions recorded on sources which come from ancient Mesopotamia (modern Iraq) and date to the late third and early second millennia BCE. Not enough for you? Why not impress your friends (and confuse your enemies) by translating some english words into Sumerian?
posted by Effigy2000 on Sep 20, 2007 - 39 comments

Traduttore-traditore: translating poetry

Translating poetry is really really hard.
posted by nthdegx on Jul 21, 2007 - 31 comments

Sean Bonney's Translations of Baudelaire

Sean Bonney's translations of Baudelaire are unconventional. Instead of following the form of the French originals they are semi-concrete typewriter poetry. In a review of the book, everyone's cup of tea, onedit magazine says that they are "certainly the best translations of Baudelaire in English ever written." Which might explain why they published 35 of them in their latest issue. You can listen to Bonney read his translations here [mp3]
posted by Kattullus on Jul 18, 2007 - 61 comments

dotSUB is a collaborative subtitling tool with lots of languages

dotSUB s a resource and gathering place for subtitling films from one language into many languages using our unique subtitling tools. These tools expand the power and reach of films by making it possible for people to view and enjoy films in their native languages. It is very easy to use and has many languages.
posted by k8t on May 11, 2007 - 5 comments

Magic Keyboard!

Multilingual Keyboard Emulator.
posted by anticlock on Jan 8, 2007 - 15 comments

More of a Babel facehugger than a Babel fish

You whisper "Je t'aime", the machine says "I love you". Carnegie Mellon offer the prospect of a real-time automatic face-mounted translation device.
posted by imperium on Oct 27, 2006 - 21 comments

Tao Te Ching in many languages

The Tao Te Ching in dozens of languages and translations, with a lovely side-by-side comparison tool.
posted by Wolfdog on Sep 10, 2006 - 19 comments

A life at high altitudes

The Nicholas Roerich Museum in New York City, houses paintings by Nicholas Roerich, a Russian artist, who spent most of his life on the Indian-Tibetan border, creating evocative images of night and day in the Himalayan Mountains. (more inside)
posted by nickyskye on Jun 15, 2006 - 15 comments

Nehmen Sie meine Frau, bitte!

Lost in translation. British Comedian Stewart Lee explores comedy in Germany and finds it stymied by the peculiarities of language and sentence construction. Mark Liberman at Language Log disagrees. And an extended essay by Josh Schonwald explores in greater depth how the German comedy scene is transitioning (PDF) from the more traditional kabernett to a burgeoning stand-up comedy scene, which is characterized by one observer as being in "the Bob Hope phase of comedy."
posted by madamjujujive on May 26, 2006 - 72 comments

Lost in translation

What's the Korean for thanatophany or the Icelandic for snoek? J M Coetzee writes about the problems and delights of translation. [via languagehat]
posted by johnny novak on Feb 2, 2006 - 15 comments

Seamus Heaney and the Soul of Antigone

Love that can't be withstood,
Love that scatters fortunes,
Love like a green fern shading
The cheek of a sleeping girl.
Seamus Heaney's search for the soul of Antigone.
(more inside, with Christopher Logue)
posted by matteo on Nov 4, 2005 - 15 comments

Literature in translation

Transcript, published in English, German and French, is a review of European literature and books. (Their double issue on Welsh literature is particularly nice.) Archipelago is another online journal dedicated to literature in translation. And despite persistent troubles with getting World literature translated into English (The Complete Review covers this issue well.), there are many sites with translated literature on the web: Albanian, Arabic Malay and Urdu, Armenian, more Armenian, Bengali, Chinese, Czech and Slovak, Dutch, Hungarian, Korean, Japanese, Pan-African, Polish, Ukranian, Welsh, "World," Yiddish.
posted by OmieWise on Jul 20, 2005 - 10 comments

Peter Weiss and the Aesthetics of Resistance

The Aesthetics of Resistance. The first part of Peter Weiss's 3-volume novel Die Ästhetik des Widerstands (1975-81) has, after many delays, finally been published in a Joachim Neugroschel’s English translation: a major, though largely-unheralded literary event. The book ‘stands as the most significant German novel published after The Tin Drum.’ [more inside]
posted by misteraitch on Jun 28, 2005 - 7 comments

German media goes english

"The main thing was that in West Berlin, we really thought it would've been great to witness the end of the world." A great interview with Einstürzende Neubauten co-founder Alexander Hacke from signandsight.com, a website that translates German arts and letters writing into English. Just part of what seems a larger trend of German outlets wading into the English market.
posted by jasonsmall on Apr 25, 2005 - 12 comments

I enjoy making fire, because it makes people feel warm

Lauris is the spirit of the office, irrespective weather those are the numerous jokes for any occasion he has in his luggage or a basket of autumn apples, which he has picked in the morning to remind the colleges about the beauty of the autumn.

Zane has chosen to live in a beautiful world of internal and external beauty, where fragrances and aromas are of importance, however the uppermost value are harmonious relations with the closest people.


We are all fans of mangled English translations from Asia, but there is a certain added beauty in this site for a Latvian law firm, which boasts "professional, fast and qualitative translations" while "introducing a spirit of poetics in the daily routine of the office".
posted by szechuan on Apr 13, 2005 - 11 comments

latera ecfututa

Can't hack Catullus in Latin? How about Brazilian Portuguese, Catalan, Chinese, Danish, Dutch, English, Estonian, French, German, Hungarian, Irish, Italian, Japanese, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Rioplatense, Romanian, Russian, Scanned, Serbian, South African, Spanish, Swedish, or Welsh? You can also compare two languages side by side.
posted by kenko on Apr 11, 2005 - 15 comments

Classics of Early Modern Philosophy, translated.

Early Modern Texts. Versions of some classics of early modern philosophy, prepared with a view to making them easier to read while leaving the main arguments, doctrines, and lines of thought intact. Recently added: John Locke's Second Treatise of Government. Via Crooked Timber.
posted by monju_bosatsu on Feb 28, 2005 - 6 comments

Autism & Animal Behavior

In her new book written with Catherine Johnson, Animals in Translation (NYTimes), Dr Temple Grandin, an animal behavior expert and inventor of the squeeze machine, uses her experiences with autism to explore the intricacies of animal behavior. She argues that animals do have consciousness, that language is not a prerequisite and other theories that bring insight into both animal and human behavior. (More)
posted by effwerd on Jan 11, 2005 - 34 comments

Linguists Dismissed

Knack for language? Great! Gay? No thanks. Interesting WaPo story of how DoD desparately needs linguists trained in Arabic, but dismisses linguists when it comes out that they are gay.
posted by cpfeifer on Dec 3, 2003 - 34 comments

Take my advice, or I'll spank you without pants.

A normal person wouldn't steal pituitaries, and other actual Hong Kong film subtitles. T-shirts, too. How can you use my intestines as a gift?
posted by kirkaracha on Oct 28, 2003 - 5 comments

The Alternative Dictionaries

Colorful phrases in 172 languages *contains offensive language* - but how else are your going to learn how to say "to pet one's monkey" in Russian or the Romanian classic "Our boss is a bloody farthead"?
posted by H. Roark on Apr 2, 2003 - 13 comments

Arab web portal

English-friendly Arab web portal: For those who want to better understand what Arab news agencies are printing/broadcasting or if you want to be able to read any web site published in Arabic, the Ajeeb portal has a free translation service. It translated Arabic to English more clearly than how I've seen babblefish handle other languages. However, one should approach any translation with circumspection, especially in light of current events.
posted by Modem Ovary on Mar 23, 2003 - 5 comments

Poetic Japanese Mistranslation

The Powell is sent in order to carry the water: I find Japanese "Engrish" websites unfunny and stupidly patronizing but this blog is potential poetry - Surrealist poetry. Whether it was machine-translated or drafted using Breton's, Ionesco's or Burroughs' techniques, it's splendidly memorable: Rather than "I am sad" we need "mush truth". All it needs is some artful, e.e.cummings-like arranging on the page to be transformed into art. [Via Linkfilter].
posted by MiguelCardoso on Feb 6, 2003 - 25 comments

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