Shakespeare Babelfishing

I don’t know if it’s still called this, or if anybody still plays it, but us old timers used to amuse ourselves back in the day when “Babelfish” was the primary foreign language translator on the net by taking a popular phrase, running it through some random languages until it spit English back out the other end, then taking turns trying to guess what it meant.  Surely everybody’s played a version of this game.

Here’s my new twist. I monitor Shakespeare quotes on Twitter. Very often they come up in a foreign language.  When one looks popular, I’ll often stick it into http://translate.google.com to see what quote it really was.  Very rarely do I recognize the quote after translation.

So, for fun (and because I feel like I’ve been neglecting the blog a bit), here’s a handful that are skimming by on my Twitter feed right now. See how many you can get right:

  • The love of young people not in the heart, but in the eyes.
  • You learn that no matter how many pieces your heart was broken, the world does not stop for you to fix it.
  • Doubts the light of the stars, From the sun has heat, until the truth Doubts, But trust my love.
  • Cried at birth because we got to this huge scenario demented.  (I think this one might be my favorite!)  
  • There is nothing good or bad, is human thought which makes it appear so.

I don’t have the correct answers for those, but I think that 4 out of 5 are relatively obvious.  I’m wondering if one of them is even Shakespeare at all.

Something occurred to me doing this.  Shakespeare’s word patterns confuse the heck out of translation engines.  If something translates back into English naturally (such as the questionable one above), chances are good that it wasn’t Shakespeare in the first place, no? 

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