Google Translate vs. Bing Translate

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Just stumbled over a post announcing that Yelp will be using Microsoft Bing (rather than Google) to translate reviews on its iPhone app. I suppose this is noteworthy because one never thinks of Microsoft beating Google at anything (though I must say I like Bing maps better than Google maps, usually).

Normally, I use Google Translate, but just for fun, I typed the passage from the Garcia Lorca poem pictured above into both Google and Bing to compare. The poem, by the way, is called Casida del herido por el agua (Casida of the one wounded by water). According to Wikipedia, a casida (or qasida) is “a form of Perso-Arabic lyric poetry.”

From the translation by Paul Archer:

I want to go down to the well,
I want to climb onto Granada's walls
to gaze at the heart impaled 
on water's hidden spike.

It’s a lovely piece, though a mysterious one.

Here are the two machine translations:

Google:

Want to go down the well,
I want to climb the walls of Granada,
Heart to look at the past
By the dark waters of the punch.

Bing:

I want to go down to the well,
I want to climb the walls of Granada,
To watch the last heart
By dark waters punch.

Granted, poetry is especially hard to translate, and neither is very close on the last two lines — why do they both associate oscuro (dark) with las aguas (the water) instead of with punzon (punch, awl, or pick, according to my dictionary)? Still, comparing the two, I’d say Bing did the better job.

Unfortunately, Bing doesn’t translate Filipino (Tagalog), or any other Filipino languages, so I can’t give up on Google translate yet. And clearly, it will be a while before machine translation will do as well as a human translator. Mostly, it’s handy for gaps in your vocabulary.


Image: A plaque on one of the exterior walls of the Alhambra, Granada, Spain. It’s a tribute to Garcia Lorca on the centennial of his birth. Photo: Nina Zumel

For a glance…

Kiss 1913 jpg Blog

Rima XXIII

Por una mirada, un mundo;
por una sonrisa, un cielo;
por un beso… ¡Yo no sé
qué te diera por un beso!

— Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer (1836-1870)

For a glance, the world;
for a smile, the heavens;
for a kiss… I don’t know
what I would give you for a kiss!

Happy Valentine’s Day.


Image: Kiss, Vsevolod Maksymovych (1913). Sourced from WikiPaintings.

Pentametron: Twitter Poetry

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I was working on another post, and it’s not going anywhere right now, so instead I give you: @pentametron. Pentametron monitors Twitter for tweets in iambic pentameter: ten syllables, in the rhythm

da DUM da DUM da DUM da DUM da DUM

and then retweets them in rhyming couplets.

If you’re on Twitter, you can follow them, but the couplets don’t come together; sometimes the two lines can be several minutes part. You should check the @pentametron stream directly every so often, so you can take in the versification all at once.

Here’s a little ballad I put together by cherry-picking from the stream. Enjoy.

Friend zoning has become a mastered art
we should’ve grown together.. not apart

Live half a life and throw the rest away.
Don’t even matter what the haters say.

I’m looking at the mirror on the wall.
My body’s just a canvas. Scars and all.

I got a very patient boyfriend — #blessed
depressed depressed and very badly dressed

Que sabra esta de amigos no?
I will forever be a loser so.

Come out the dark and step into the light
I’m ready for another snowball fight

Book Spine Literature

Schietree just introduced me to book spine poetry: so fun! I had to play.

This is a bit challenging, since most of our books are in storage. The majority of the physical books in the apartment are technical, and making poetry out of The Elements of Statistical Learning or The Analysis of Financial Time Series is a bit beyond me (any quant jocks up for the challenge?).

But I prevailed.

P1010949

Heart songs:
wonder tales,
fragile things,
ghosts of yesterday.
The interior castle --
the secret parts of fortune.

The second one is more like flash fiction.

P1010948

Olive Kitteridge,
   monstress,
barbequed husbands.

Warnings to the curious!

What poetry lurks in the spines on your bookshelf?

The Devil Went Down to Georgia

Whoosh! It’s been a minute since my last post, hasn’t it?

For some reason, I’ve been listening to what you might call “folkloric music” lately. That is, music that tells a folktale or a tall tale — or at least, a “folktale-like” story.  Today’s example: Charlie Daniels’ “The Devil Went Down to Georgia”.

The Devil Went Down to Georgia

The Devil Went Down to Georgia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The song tells the story of a fiddle player named Johnny, who is challenged to a fiddle contest by the devil. If Johnny wins, he gets a solid gold fiddle —

But if you lose, the Devil gets your soul…

Here’s the Primus version, which I admit I like better than the Charlie Daniels’ version. It comes with a cool Claymation video:


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