Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Computer translation to the rescue!

by Rick Blechta

For today’s post, we’re going to have fun, courtesy of Vicki. She found or was sent a link to a reprint of the Arthur Ellis Awards shortlist announcement made last Thursday.

That’s a good thing, right? The word is being spread around the world. The shortlisted books will garner increased sales due to their notoriety. Everyone, publishers and authors will win.

Except there’s a catch with this particular version of the Arthur shortlist.

We believe what you’re about to see was translated into another language and then translated back into English by one of those online, automated translation sites. The results are often unintentionally hilarious.

Vicki alerted me to what was done to the novella category in which we’re both nominated (an honour to be nominated, especially alongside my old pal, Vicki). And congrats to Barbara, as well!

First here’s the original announcement:

Best Novella
Rick Blechta, The Boom Room, Orca Book Publishers
Vicki Delany, Juba Good, Orca Book Publishers
Ian Hamilton, The Dragon Head of Hong Kong, House of Anansi
Jas. R. Petrin, A Knock on the Door, Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine

and now the translated site’s version:

Greatest Novella
Rick Blechta, The Improve Room, Orca E book Publishers
Vicki Delany, Juba Simply Proper, Orca E-book Publishers
Ian Hamilton, The Dragon Head of Hong Kong, Area of Anansi
Jas. R. Petrin, A Knock on the Door, Alfred Hitchcock’s Thriller Magazine

I love The Improve Room and Juba Simply Proper. What great titles. Vicki and I should have used them. From now on I’m going to use the services of Google Translator, run my titles through several languages and then back to English. I’m sure it will make my publications far more memorable.

You’ll also notice that our category went from “Best Novella” to “Greatest Novella”. That’s a huge improvement. However it’s not as good as the change in the category in which Barbara is nominated. “Best Novel” changed to “Absolute Greatest Novel”. That means if she wins, she will have written the most important crime novel ever. Holy Mackinaw! What an honour!!

Here are the links to both lists (the official one and the one we’re talking about). There are several more translational gems:
Not to leave out the rest of the Type M crowd, here are examples of everyone’s book titles (from the left-hand column of this page) run through Google Translator. I think we’ll try English to Spanish to German to English:
  • From book and breaking by Vicki Delany (Not quite what she had in mind, I’m sure.)
  • What the Sawfly by Frankie Bailey (A mystery about insects. A first!)
  • None So Blind by Barbara Fradkin (She came through with flying colours!)
  • Roses for a Diva by Rick Blechta (So did I!)
  • Fatal Stroke by Sybil Johnson (Forget the artist crap and go for the gusto!)
  • Ill Feeling by Aline Templeton (A bit wishy-washy for the title of a mystery I’d say.)
  • Crossing Bitter by D.A. Keeley (Close, but no cigar, John)
  • Hidden Heritage by Charlotte Hinger (Obviously, Charlotte picked wisely.)
  • Wrong Hill to Die by Donis Casey (Must be a geographical mystery. Another first!)
  • Werewolf Smackdown by Mario Acevedo (The magic in this title defied translation!)

And finally, just to show you how much computer translations have helped understanding in our complicated world, I present the second paragraph in today’s post translated into Spanish, then German, and back to English:

That's a good thing, right? Spread the word throughout the world. Should come Garner preselection books increased sales due to its notoriety. Each winning publishers and authors.

See? Exactly the same! Err…


Sybil Johnson said...

Thanks for the laugh.

Sybil Johnson said...

I translated "Fatal Brush Stroke" (two words for brushstroke) from English to Spanish to German to English. Got "Fatal Brush Movement" this time.

Rick Blechta said...

That's even better.

You've always got to watch those brushes! They can be very dangerous.

Actually "Fatal Brush Movement" sounds like a pretty great name for a punk band.

If you want to get really wild, translate something about a half dozen times or more. Sometimes they come back completely unrecognizable.

Rick Blechta said...

And I should have included this one from the "Very Greatest Nonfiction E-Ebook" category:

Invoice Reynolds, Life Actual Loud: John Lefebvre, Neteller and the Revolution in On-line Enjoying, ECW Press

Anonymous said...

Best title creation post ever - and a great laugh. Might have to use Welsh as an intermediate language as my current work is set in that country. Cael diwrnod bendigedig ysgrifennu.

Rick Blechta said...

Thanks, Roland! But it was really like shooting fish in a barrel.

I wonder what Bill Reynolds thinks about his name being changed to Invoice Reynolds?

Diolch! Rwy'n bwriadu arno.

Donis Casey said...

My guess is the translator didn't like the fact that I ended my title with a preposition. Grammar police as well as translator!

Rick Blechta said...

Yeah, I guess if you'd titled it The Wrong Hill on Which to Die, teachers and grammar police would have cheered. Everyone else would have scratched their heads and wondered why.

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