Wild language flying backwards

One other little task that Rita the Storm managed to disrupt was my timely reading of Tom Robbins’ latest book: “Wild Ducks Flying Backwards.”

It is a collection of short pieces — mostly past magazine articles and a few poems — rather than his richly written and hilarious fiction. Robbins celebrates words and uses them to tell a story as if he were taking those words to an opera and an elegant dinner. Because of that, anything Robbins writes is worth reading. But Ducks cannot be confused with works like “Another Roadside Attraction.”

Robbins also provides a glimpse into his personal world by providing some answers to questions readers wanted to know. One piece I found interesting was his discussion of how his work turns out translated in other languages. He talks about “back translating” or translating the translated words which shows the English doesn’t always compute even though, said Robbins, the translation into a language other than English sometimes improves on the message he has written. That made me think of how my writing comes across in other languages. It is a subject I had not really given a lot of thought to because I figure if someone is reading something I wrote they are most likely reading it in English. But who knows? Things are passed all over the Internet and I know people from other countries stop in at this blog practically every day.

So I used an online translator. I don’t use such services for definitive translations but rather to get a ball park idea of what is being said. I used a recent post and translated it into Spanish and then had the Spanish version translated back into English. I did the same in Portuguese, primarily because for some reason I get referrals to my blog from places where Portuguese is the major language.

This is what I wrote Tuesday:

“Sometimes I get the photos mixed up. Right caption. Wrong picture. Thank goodness this isn’t a newspaper where it might end up on the page for the ages. And then you have to write a correction and listen to some old retired engineer rant about the mistake over the phone. Here on the blog I can go back and correct the mistake. It’s not like real life. That’s what I like about blogging: It’s not like real life.”

Here is what it says translated into Spanish and back into English:

At times I obtain the photos they mixed. Correct title. Wrong portrait. Give thanks the kindness that this is not a newspaper where it perhaps finish for in the page for the ages. And then you have to write a correction and to listen some bombastic language retired old of engineer about the error on the telephone. Here in the blog I can return and to be able to correct the error. Is not as the daily life. That is what I want about blogging: Is not as the daily life.

Well, I do like bombastic. I think it’s much stronger word than “rant.” Here is the passage in English after being translated back from Portuguese:

“Sometimes I receive the pictures confused itself. Caption correct. Wrong chart. Thank kindness this is not a newspaper where is able to end for top in the page for the ages. And then should write a correction and some listening desvairo retired old of engineer about the error about the fone. Here in the blog that I can come back and correct the error. It is not like real life. That is what do I eat about blogging: is not like real life.”

That is a good excuse that “I receive the pictures confused itself.” Those damn pictures are the problem! I don’t really know “what do I eat about blogging” but I know I am going to eat something. It’s a good idea, eating. I think I shall do that now. Ta.

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