Lost in Translation: What happens when an English phrase is translated (by computer) back and forth among five different languages?

I want to recommend a website that I think is fun. It is called “Lost in Translation” The website’s introduction includes these two lines:

What happens when an English phrase is translated (by computer) back and forth among five different languages? …

… Remember the old game of "Telephone"? Something is lost, and sometimes something is gained.

I have a current post in Coffee Talk about this. If you want to play with the website, post anything interesting that you get in there.

Ooh, this one turned out fun!

Original English Text:
Baa, baa, black sheep,
Have you any wool?
Yes sir, yes sir,
Three bags full;
One for the master,
And one for the dame,
And one for the little boy
Who lives down the lane.

Translated to French:
Le bêlement, bêlement, mouton noir, vous ont n'importe quelles laines ?
Oui monsieur, oui monsieur,
Trois sacs pleins ;
Un pour le maître,
Et un pour dame, et un pour le petit garçon qui vit en bas de la ruelle.

Translated back to English:
Do the bleat, bleat, black sheep, have you any wools? Yes Sir, yes Sir, Three full bags; For the Master, And for lady, and for the little boy who lives in bottom of the lane.

Translated to German:
Haben das Meckern, schwarzes Schaf des Meckerns, Sie irgendwelche Wollen? Ja geehrter Herr, ja geehrter Herr, drei volle Taschen; Für den Meister und für Dame und für den kleinen Jungen, der in der Unterseite des Wegs lebt.

Translated back to English:
Have does the Meckern, black sheep of the Meckerns, you any wools? Yes honoured gentleman, yes honoured Mr., three full bags; For the master and for lady and for the small boy, who lives in the lower surface of the way.

Translated to Italian:
Abbia fa il Meckern, la pecora nera del Meckerns, voi tutte le lane? Signore sì onorato, sig. sì onorato, tre borse piene; Per il supervisore e per signora e per il piccolo ragazzo, che vive nell'intradosso del modo.

Translated back to English:
Ago have do the Meckern, the black sheep of the Meckerns, you all the wools? Honored gentleman yes, Mr. yes honored, three full stock exchanges; For the supervisor and mrs. and the small boy, than alive in the lower surface of the way.

Translated to Portuguese:
Há tenha fazem o Meckern, a ovelha negra do Meckerns, você todas as lãs? Cavalheiro honrado sim, Sr. honrado sim, as três bolsas de valores cheias; Para o supervisor e a Sra. e o menino pequeno, do que vivo no intradorso da maneira.

Translated back to English:
It has make the Meckern, the black sheep of the Meckerns, you all the wools? Honoured gentleman yes, honoured Mr. yes, the three full stock exchange; For the supervisor and Mrs. and the small boy, of what alive in the intrados in the way.

Translated to Spanish:
¿Tiene hacer el Meckern, la oveja negra del Meckerns, usted todas las lanas? Caballero honrado sí, Sr. honrado sí, la bolsa de acción completa tres; Para el supervisor y la señora y el pequeño muchacho, de qué vivo en el intrados de la manera.

Translated back to English:
It has to make the Meckern, the black sheep of the Meckerns, you all the wools? Honest horseman yes, honest Mr. yes, stock-market of action complete three; For the supervisor and the lady and the small boy, of what alive in the soffit of the way.

Honest Horseman? We were talking about sheep…

Here’s another one using a line by Groucho Marx:

Original English Text:
A child of five would understand this. Send someone to fetch a child of five.

Translated to French:
Un enfant de cinq comprendrait ceci. Envoyez quelqu'un pour chercher un enfant de cinq.

Translated back to English:
A child of five would understand this. Send somebody to seek a child of five.

Translated to German:
Ein Kind von fünf würde dieses verstehen. Senden Sie jemand, um ein Kind von fünf zu suchen.

Translated back to English:
A child of five would understand this. Transmit someone, in order to look a child up from five to.

Translated to Italian:
Un bambino di cinque capirebbe questo. Trasmetta qualcuno, per guardare un bambino su da cinque a.

Translated back to English:
A five child would understand this. He transmits someone, in order to look a child on from five to

Translated to Portuguese:
Uma criança cinco compreenderia esta. Transmite alguém, a fim olhar uma criança sobre de cinco a

Translated back to English:
A child five would understand this. She transmits somebody, the end to look at a child on of five

Translated to Spanish:
Un niño cinco entendería esto. Ella transmite alguien, el extremo para mirar a un niño encendido de cinco

Translated back to English:
A boy five would understand this. She transmits somebody, the end to watch an ignited boy of five

This was sounding pretty good until the boy of five caught FIRE.

Try it yourself, oh, come on, you know you want to…

X

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