Good heavens. “I love you”, machine-translated from English to French to English to German to English to Italian to English to Portuguese to English to Spanish to English, becomes “Master to him”, now would you have guessed that? Lost in translation has been doing the link rounds lately, and it’s quite an amusing literary game.

Literary games are also the topic of the latest issue of Poems that go, which includes an introduction by Nick Montfort and a selection of poems, or games, or both, both familiar and new. Nathalie Bookchin’s The Intruder is here, for instance. I’ve played it before, and always love the first scene, or set, I suppose, where you have to hit words to acquire more of the sentence. Unfortunately I also always get lost or sidetracked further in so I’ve never succeeded in finishing it.

Nick Montfort and Rachel Stevens’ Field of Dreams is lovely, and doesn’t make you annoyed because you couldn’t finish it either: it lets you make sentences or stories with missing words that later visitors can fill in. The strangest sentences appear. As people make new fields, old ones disappear, like dreams. I liked Ingrid’s, now vanished; it made surprising sense whichever words you put into it.

Once, when I was *three* years old, I choked on a *ring*. My mother *played* and my father–well, my father just sat down and *left*. It was all he could do to keep from *flying*! I was like, “*damn*, what do you want me to do? *love*?” My father reached into my throat and pulled out the *diamond*. It was *gleaming*! We all had a good laugh and went back to watching *BarneTV*.

Are you going to go and make a dream field? We’ll populate it if you do!

2 thoughts on “literary games

  1. S¯nnev

    I tried the multitranslation – and discovered that the word “Christmas” sometimes gets translated as “NATO”!
    This occurs because the Italian word for Christmas, “natale” is misinterpreted as “concerning NATO”.

    “I wish you a merry Christmas and a happy new year” came out “NATO with the lucky person and the new lucky person of the anniversary examines” after being run through the Multibabel two or three times.
    Imagine the possibilities!

  2. accidentals and substantives

    lost in translation
    In a recent post to the eighteenth-century list, Robert Dawson points to an inadvertently ludic phenomenon of the eighteenth-century book trade: texts were sometimes translated into a foreign tongue on the continent only to be translated back into the …

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