Lost in Translation

When I was originally developing my warped ideas with J. I had the idea that at some point I should do a podcast. It stemmed from my ongoing frustration with the limitations of Google Translate. At the time I was receiving emails in Spanish and my limited high school training wasn’t up to the task of colloquialisms. The message would be cut and pasted into Google Translate with varying degrees of success. I thought that reading some of them along with a stream of consciousness commentary would be entertaining.

Of course, this got me to thinking and that is often a bit frightening. It was a twisted path that ended pondering literature and just how different it reads in the original language. The belief that writers choose their words deliberately is an argument I have had with every teacher and professor that wanted me to debate symbolism. So much of what we read has been translated. Anyone who has studies language knows there is almost never a direct translation, especially in abstract concepts like sky, wind, love, or home. I started to wonder how different many books would be if they were read as intended.

That took me back to Google Translate. And my apologies to Google, I know you are doing your best. This is a direct translation. Word for word. Wouldn’t that make for an interesting podcast? However, if we wait for me to find motivation, purchase equipment, learn how to use it, and actually post we will all be collecting social security. Maybe I’ll get there, but why should you have to wait?

So here is a passage of Proust. The passage in French, then the same passage as in the English printed version, and last the direct translation, per Google, of the French to English. I think it’s best to read them aloud. If you, like me, can’t speak French Google does have an audio function. Enjoy!

Original French:

Mais à l’âge déjà un peu désabusé dont approchait Swann, et où l’on sait se contenter d’être amoureux pour le plaisir de l’être sans trop exiger de réciprocité, ce rapprochement des cœurs, s’il n’est plus comme dans la première jeunesse le but vers lequel tend nécessairement l’amour, lui reste uni en revanche par une association d’idées si forte, qu’il peut en devenir la cause, s’il se présente avant lui. Autrefois on rêvait de posséder le cœur de la femme dont on était amoureux; plus tard sentir qu’on possède le cœur d’une femme peut suffire à vous en rendre amoureux. Ainsi, à l’âge où il semblerait, comme on cherche surtout dans l’amour un plaisir subjectif, que la part du goût pour la beauté d’une femme devrait y être la plus grande, l’amour peut naître – l’amour le plus physique – sans qu’il y ait eu, à sa base, un désir préalable

English Print:

But at the time of life, tinged already with disenchantment, which Swann was approaching, when a man can content himself with being in love for the pleasure of loving without expecting too much in return, this linking of hearts, if it is no longer, as in early youth, the goal towards which love, of necessity, tends, still is bound to love by so strong an association of ideas that it may well become the cause of love if it presents itself first. In his younger days a man dreams of possessing the heart of the woman whom he loves; later, the feeling that he possesses the heart of a woman may be enough to make him fall in love with her. And 50, at an age when it would appear—since one seeks in love before everything else a subjective pleasure—that the taste for feminine beauty must play the larger part in its procreation, love may come into being, love of the most physical order, without any foundation in desire.

Google Translate English:

But at age already a little disillusioned with approaching Swann, and where we know just be in love for the pleasure of being without requiring reciprocity too, this rapprochement of hearts, if not as in early youth the goal towards which tends necessarily love, still has united however by such a strong association of ideas, he can become the cause, if present before him. Once we dreamed of possessing the heart of the woman we were lovers; Later we feel has the heart of a woman is enough to make you love. Thus, at an age when it would seem , as especially seeks in love a subjective pleasure, from the love of a woman’s beauty should be the greatest , love can be born – love the most physical – not that there was, at its core, a preliminary desire

Alien Dog

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I have an alien dog. At least I think he is a dog. Or he is meant to be a dog. I don’t know. He is weird-looking. It’s like someone who has never seen a dog before had one described to them and created what lives with me. He is small and compact with white paws that have Clydesdale feathers, his face sort of looks like a schnauzer but with a white “beard” that resembles an exploded cotton ball. He has eyebrows. Bushy eyebrows and old man ear hair. There is one little tuft of hair on the top of his skull that sticks up like Alfalfa from the Little Rascals. His tail is tipped in white with straggly hairs at the very end. It curls around in a circle and never straightens. He can lift it up and down, but it’s always curled, almost like a pig. The best part is his fur. He is mostly a deep red with short, smooth hair. The exception being that there is long, coarse, curly hair running along his spine. He has a Mohawk. He is freaking adorable!
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OK, he looks odd, that doesn’t make him an alien. Very true. He also acts a bit strange. Like he isn’t 100% sure how to dog. Nothing you could point out directly, just a bit off. For instance, the time a backhoe drove down the street. He climbed up in my lap and cowered, shook, and whined. Never done it with any other piece of heavy equipment and with all the construction on our roads he has seen plenty. Or the airplane. Every time one flies over he sits down and throws his head back, tracking it with his eyes. I’ve never seen a dog notice planes. And sounds. He has the wrong sounds. Its strange snuffling noises and bleating like a sheep. Once he was at the fence making pig grunts. Then there are his eating habits. I’m sure that he was given instructions to fit in among the earthlings and he was to attempt to eat what the other dogs eat. He doesn’t seem to like food very much. That’s really weird, don you think? He much prefers to ingest his toys. Stuffed toys, but not the stuffing and never the squeaker.

So what’s the back story?

I’m convinced he was sent down by an alien race to assist in the enslavement of the human race. I never bought into the Orson Welles giant robots story or skinny green men with big heads depiction of extra terrestrials. Especially not in America. We are a violent bunch with far too many weapons available to far too many people. Better to quietly observe us and see what we like then mimic that. Pets, we love our pets. If you were going to create minions wouldn’t it be easier if they entered into bondage willingly? And what better way than to convince the subservient that they are essential to the care and well-being of their captor? We humans would never suspect a thing. So he is from a planet in a distant galaxy, near Sirius I’m sure, and his job is to collect data on possible methods of subjugation and upload it to the mother-ship.

He does this by first probing everyone he meets. The probing process is so stealthy that most people just assume he needs his nails trimmed. He scratches your leg. If that doesn’t work he will resort to a small nip on the backside. (Never hard, mind you.) You would spin around wondering if he just bit you, not really sure. Truthfully it is the last resort. He seems to have perfected his technique as recently he has taken to performing what I call drive by lickings. This is where I walk him through the park and he licks every exposed leg he can reach and just keeps on trucking.

Once probed, he then gathers data. Having observed his modus operandi I have discerned that the type of alien he originated from is a Space Invader. This is because he will sit next to you edging ever closer until such time as you scratch his ears, rub his belly, or get up and provide him with food or entertainment. Any resistance results in his head on your shoulder and sad eyes boring into your soul. As time has gone by he has taken to reprimanding the humans if they fail to comply in a timely manner. This is done by standing in your path or line of sight and loudly remonstrating you, with sounds no dog should make (see above). This will continue until such time as his demands are satisfied. Data is then uploaded to the mother-ship after having logged into the subject. Logging in is done by either licking your eyeball or your teeth. One would think this is difficult, but he is very adept in his logging in skills. The subject is then kept in place during the duration of the upload by subsequent licking of the face.

All of this takes a vast amount of energy. Earth nutrition doesn’t fulfill the requirement needed so the alien dog must recharge its power source. Luckily for him I have provided him a reading lamp under which he can curl into a tight ball and permit the glow of the light to rejuvenate. And every morning he will stare at the light next to the sofa until I turn it on for him. There he will spend the morning in a state of near trance. This is also the time he conveys his plans to the cats. They have proven to be great allies in the plot to enslave the humans. Cats have been trying for centuries, but just couldn’t get the balance of cuddly and demanding in the proper ratios. It’s too late for me. I’ve been corrupted by the alien blight. I couldn’t be happier!