Whispering Game

All the different translations of Happy Birthday made me think of something I saw in the newspaper a lot of years ago. They took a Dutch poem, gave it to someone to translate in a different language, then they gave that version to someone else to translate in yet another language, etc, until they reached Dutch again.

I thought that was a very nice experiment, and I've always wanted to do something like that. Would you like to join? I would make an order and then when someone finishes, they could send the result to the next person in a message. When the whole thing is finished, we could post them in the correct order. We probably would have to go via English quite a few times, but we'll see.

I would need to know what languages you can translate from and to. I'm fairly comfortable to translate to and from English and Dutch, but while I can read German and translate it into English or Dutch, I can't write in German well enough to produce something nice. So what I would ask you all, is whether you think this is a good idea, if you have a better idea or suggestion.

If you want to join, please give a summary of the languages you can translate. For the people who only know English, we would also need someone to write the first poem, or snippet of story.

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To see the spreadsheet of languages:

http://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=rG38R8f_rLIdFzHYSIanLIA

2 is to/from, 1 is from, and in () means it could maybe be done if really necessary.

Forums: 
Pikachu42's picture

Embodiment

to do something like that. It makes my inner geek happy. The problem being is that I speak VERY little French...as a matter of fact the only language other than English that I'd say I was proficient in is ASL....so i guess I'm out.

Eleonora's picture

Devotee

I had to look ASL up. But cool! I've always thought it would be very interesting to learn a sign language.

Pikachu42's picture

Embodiment

it is cool. i learned so i could talk to my great aunt Smile

kawaiikune's picture

Embodiment

if we could find pictograms online somewhere to try sign language. I don't know it myself, but that sounds pretty cool.

Languages I could do:
From Spanish to English
(I could try the other way, but no promises. It's been a really, really long time since I *spoke* any Spanish, since I have no one to talk to who understands it anymore.)

Pikachu42's picture

Embodiment

was with me and French. While I was taking French, there were a lot of people to practice with. As soon as I stopped, I had no one to talk with. Except the odd person who would be a dick and tell me to learn Spanish

Laureril's picture

Supplicant

Check out Sutton SignWriting. It's currently more popular in Europe - particularly the Netherlands if I remember correctly, but it's starting to gain some popularity in the states. There's two other major systems which are chereological - and just plain don't work. HamNoSys and Stokoe Notation. SignWriting is featural and fairly intuitive.

Or just glosses.

Saudadina's picture

Devotee

I can do English or German to French. I can't promise French to English (although I could try) and French to German is definitely out !
That could give a very funny result. I know a software that does that, and sometimes the end result has totally nothing to do with hw it started !

NorthwoodsMan's picture

Embodiment

I can translate what ever language google and word will allow me to. Wink

kawaiikune's picture

Embodiment

when that one would come up. I love that thing. (Well, okay, I use Babelfish, but it's the same idea.)

My favorite thing to do is translate something from English into another language and then back and see what comes out. Food items and dirty words work best for this, especially in combination. My second favorite thing is to find a foreign stranger on the internet and talk to them in their own language using Babelfish. They're always so impressed that an American can speak Arabic or something, even if I admit my Arabic is a little rusty or I mention all I know are dirty phrases. Sometimes I fess up before the end of the conversation, but it always cracks me up. Back when it was new, I talked to my high school math teacher online in German every day for three weeks before I finally told him I didn't speak a word of it, and then he didn't believe me.

Frog Princess's picture

Devotee

I can translate to and from:
Russian
Hebrew
English

Eleonora's picture

Devotee

I thought it would be handy to edit in the languages in my first post. Please check and shout if it's not correct. We could do the google thing after everything's finished and post that as a p.s. might be funny to compare.

I should be able to translate from French, since I've had it for five years at school (though the last two years were only reading and only 1 hour a week or something), but I'm not confident to do so. Maybe if it's really necessary in the chain, I'll give it a try.

Oh and just to remind you all, we someone to write a poem or a paragraph of fiction in English to start with. A poem is probably nicer (with rhyming would probably be complete hell), but fiction would be easier.

kawaiikune's picture

Embodiment

we could find something classic, like a famous poem or something. I think as long as we post the source, we're in the clear, right? Maybe we could even do a section of this story or something, although that sounds long and time-consuming. A small section, perhaps?

Eleonora's picture

Devotee

The thing is that the people further in the line are not supposed to see the original. If you could recognise the poem you're not really following the chain. We could do that of course if no-one comes forward, but I thought it would be something someone who knew just English could do to participate.

Paisleigh's picture

Devotee

I'm not much for translating but this does sound fun. As for a poem or some such to translate, if you would like something original, I do have a riot (I can not recite it without bursting into laughter at least once) of a poem called Ode to a Cop if you want I can post it.

Eleonora's picture

Devotee

no posting yet. The idea is that no-one sees the original, and that it only gets send to the one who has to translate it. Then that person only sends that to the next one. That way it's like a whispering game. If everyone sees the original you don't get the funny things you get if you make a chain.

Paisleigh's picture

Devotee

Well, if you would like to take a look at it, I'm sure you can find a way to send me a message or some such and I could send it you that way.

seia's picture

Devotee

sounds like fun Smile I can translate to/from Dutch and English.

The Which's picture

Embodiment

Fun! I speak a little Spanish, but my Spanish to English is probably going to be better than my English to Spanish.

The Vixen's picture

Devotee

To and from English and German,

From Hebrew, Spanish, French.

mafidufa's picture

Petitioner

english to swahili and back, though if I'm the only one it might be hard to work it in. Hey swahili speakers theres more than 100 million of us, come to this corner of da interwebs.

blwinteler's picture

Supplicant

Though I just add to the to and from spanish bunch.

faile486's picture

Petitioner

Dang, I would love to help with this = ( I don't think I remember enough of my highschool German though.

Hm...if it was simple enough, maybe. I might be able to get a native German-speaking friend to help me with it too!

To: English
From: German

kalinka's picture

Postulant

I can do Spanish and Russian. This sounds really cool!

Eleonora's picture

Devotee

to/from English Russian and Spanish then?

kalinka's picture

Postulant

The only one where I might be weaker than others who've said Russian is to Russian. But yeah.

Clare-Dragonfly's picture

Supplicant

This sounds like lots of fun, but I really doubt I know enough Welsh to translate anything into it! I could try translating out, though... then again, I can only think of one person here likely to speak Welsh, and I don't know that he does (that would be Prof Rdehwyll).

Actually, I could have a fair go at Esperanto. In or out. Again, the problem of not knowing who else here might speak it, but I bet someone does.

TheGrayCrayon's picture

Devotee

If you need someone fluent in pig latin. I'm-ay our-yay uy-gay.

Paisleigh's picture

Devotee

Ou-ya oo-tay? Blum 3 bbt-pay

Shade's picture

Supplicant

Not much in the way of decent translating, but I could offer up the Epic Tragedy of Harold and Lester to be switched around :P. The epic love of a lobster and sea cucumber.

. . .

It's epic.

Laureril's picture

Supplicant

Native speaker of English, 9 years of French, 4 of Latin, 1 in Chinese.
I wouldn't consider myself fluent in Chinese, but I could muddle through with a dictionary and a lot of effort.

Eleonora's picture

Devotee

I got a good idea for the original poem yesterday. It would be really really awesome if someone could write an Intimate History inspired one. I don't know what, a love poem to Ellika is the first thing that comes to mind, but there are of course many other possibilities. I was thinking something around 10 lines, not too much, not too little.

It's so cool that so many people want to join. I'm going to update all the languages now. I think I'm going to make a spreadsheet or something and paste it in the post (I really have a thing for spreadsheets).

Eleonora's picture

Devotee

Ok, I made a spreadsheet in Google docs, you should be able to see it if you click the link on the first post. Please take a look and if I've forgotten someone, or did something wrong tell me. It can be a bit tricky to keep track of everything.

mafidufa's picture

Petitioner

I kinda sorta knew about google docs but this is the first time I'm running into it and it just seems really cool that you can do that 8)

Eleonora's picture

Devotee

Another post from me. 3 in a row. Just because I get the feeling that I've not been entirely clear on this, I'll try to make the concept a bit clearer with an example.

person A makes a poem and sends it via a message to B
B translates it from English to French and sends it to C
C translates it from French to German and sends it to D
D translates it from German to English

When D is finished all the poems can be posted. For this to work, persons C and D should not have seen the poem send by A. This is why I would like to use something written especially for this, and this way we can include at least one person who is only fluent in English.

Another point: I would like to be somewhere in the chain, so please don't send me poems. Just post that you would be willing to make one.
We can use the websites message system to send the poem further.
If we want to do this well, it's probably going to take a couple of weeks, depending on how many people join, because it could be that you get the poem at a moment that you really don't have time. Though I think for a 10 line poem we could maybe set a (loose) deadline of two days after you've received it.

I hope this makes it a bit clearer. I'm really excited and that might make me a bit unclear or overly clear, I don't know. Any questions?

kalinka's picture

Postulant

Looking at that spreadsheet makes me realize how incredibly AWESOME we all are. haha Look at all those languages!

Gudy's picture

Embodiment

... German and English, and may, under duress and at gunpoint, be able to translate from simple Spanish, French or Russian.

Frog Princess's picture

Devotee

Eleonora, are you sure you want to use a poem rather than a piece of prose? From my expirience, poems are impossible to accurately translate, because you need to keep to the meter and the rhyming scheme (if there is one), sometimes at the cost of direct translation. A poem would change the game because the text would mutate away from the original much faster than prose would.

Eleonora's picture

Devotee

That's exactly the idea. If you do it with prose you would probably get something back that's more or less the same as the original. With a poem the challenge would be to keep the 'message' intact. To me it seems a bit boring to use prose. Maybe we could do a short poem (something like ten lines) and a tiny bit of prose to see the difference.

LaCiega's picture

I could do in and out of Spanish, if there's room for me.

Eleonora's picture

Devotee

I'll make the final scheme tomorrow afternoon (more or less GMT). So if you want to join do so quickly. I'll try to include as many people as possible. Seeing as we have two other people who can do Dutch, I think I might try to wrench a poem out myself. Never wrote a poem in English, but then at least it'll be easy enough to translate. I think. I hope. We'll see. So kick off will be tomorrow.

(if there's someone else who wants to write, please comment, we could also use a couple of sentences prose)

The Which's picture

Embodiment

I dont think I'm on the list. I can do Spanish.

mafidufa's picture

Petitioner

A bit late, but I just noticed Esperanto on the list. I haven't had much practice with it but I probably could, with dictionary help, do Esperanto to English (or Swahili) but not the other way.

Also I had a burst of creativity a week ago and that left me with a few poems so if you are looking for another poem I have a nice short one on the life (or rather death) of a leaf that I could see having much fun in translation. Its in English by the way.

Clare-Dragonfly's picture

Supplicant

I knew someone else here must speak Esperanto! I haven't had much practice either, and was planning on using a dictionary. We can totally do this.

Eleonora's picture

Devotee

Making the order now, so no more new players.

Eleonora's picture

Devotee

So the order is up on the spreadsheet. Please check and complain if I did something wrong (sorry The Which, I must have missed your first post). I couldn't fit LaCiega in, sorry about that. Unless I messed up somewhere and someone shows me how to do that, or another Spanish to English person speaks up, I suggest LaCiega can be support for one of the other Spanish translators. Just once though, otherwise she'll have seen an earlier incarnation of the poem and that would be cheating Wink . I'll work on the poem (inspired by the Intimate History, don't know if it'll be any good, but at least it'll have something to do with the reason we're all on this forum) and then we should be able to start tomorrow or the day after, but I'll try for tomorrow.

kalinka's picture

Postulant

This is going to be AWESOME.

LaCiega's picture

All right then, awaiting requests for advice...

Eleonora's picture

Devotee

So, writing a poem isn't going as well as I want. I have one crappy three line one. It's far too short, but well, we could use it as a test I think. I'm going to mull it over a little bit longer. If I decide to send it to the first person, I'll try and write a longer one this weekend. We wouldn't have to wait till the short one's finished before sending the longer one.

Eleonora's picture

Devotee

Ok, got something that's seven lines. Still not particularly happy with it, it's a big too cryptic, but might be nice to translate. I'll send it to The Which now. I suggest we use this post to keep track of where the poem is. I'll send it via the website's message system. Then when she's finished translating and sends it to the next person, she can reply to this comment. That way you can give a shoot if you haven't gotten the message.
So please don't reply to this post but reply to the thread if you have something else to say.

I'm really curious how this'll turn out!!

The Which's picture
kalinka's picture
Frog Princess's picture

Devotee

The Vixen

Eleonora's picture

Devotee

Is everything going okay, the Vixen? did you receive the poem?

seia's picture

Devotee

I'm guessing something went wrong around Vixen's part in the chain, as I never received the poem. Do we send it on, ignoring the dutch part or is there another person who could translate to/from Dutch?
EDIT: took a look at who's supposed to do what, and it seems skipping a part isn't as simple as I thought it would be.

Shade's picture

Supplicant

Vixen can't be reached, I can probably get my boyfriend to translate as he's Dutch and speaks a few other languages as well.

Eleonora's picture

Devotee

It's a bit problematic since it has to go from Hebrew to Dutch. Is there anyone that can help with that?

Eleonora's picture

Devotee

If everyone still wants to finish, I think the easiest solution would be for The Which to send her Spanish version to Seia who can then translate it into English. We'll put the Russian and Hebrew version of the poem up as a sub branch.

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