Google Translate is notorious for it’s lackluster and/or too-literal translating abilities. Let’s put it to the test with stories/lyrics/phrases/grocery lists around the world and back again!

Take a story, song lyrics, a phrase, etc. and put it through Google Translate. Then translate it to another language. And again. And again. Have fun with it, then translate it back to English/whatever original language it was in and see how it compares with the original. Chances are depending on what you choose, it will be longer than can be fit into a tweet. Feel free to do this activity in a blog post and link us to it!

Example: I took the Walt Whitman poem “A Noiseless Patient Spider,” translated it to Korean, then took that translation and translated it to Russian, then in the same fashion to Italian, then Hindi, and finally back to English.

Let’s see how it compared.

Original

A noiseless patient spider

A noiseless patient spider,

I mark’d where on a little promontory it stood isolated,
Mark’d how to explore the vacant vast surrounding,
It launch’d forth filament, filament, filament, out of itself,
Ever unreeling them, ever tirelessly speeding them.

And you O my soul where you stand,
Surrounded, detached, in measureless oceans of space,
Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing, seeking the spheres to connect them,
Till the bridge you will need be form’d, till the ductile anchor hold,
Till the gossamer thread you fling catch somewhere, O my soul.

Now after the translation shenanigans (English -> Korean -> Russian -> Italian -> Hindi -> English):

Patient Spider Noise

Patient spider noise,
I have to show where it is different from one end.
He shows that to find empty huge surroundings.
He started yarn, yarn, thread,
Let them go, do not constantly sharpen their tireless pace.

Oh, and he stands in my soul,
Boundless sea, surrounded, isolated, space,
Continuing to throw thought, adventure, throw, demand for a special compound
I have not figured out yet until the bridge is made, it should be a flexible one.
And ‘take it away somewhere in the stairs of the room until my soul caught.

Huh. Intelligible. Not bad. Let’s see what you get!

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