Tuesday, 28 February 2012

(A soccer duck!) Yl cream ー t'at Aberdeen

A brief interlude today, while I take a leaf from the book of Alan at News from Nowhere and have a little fun with Google Translate.

Alan typed the lyrics of verse one of Danny Boy into Google translate and, after a little wander from

'English to Chinese, then from Chinese to Yiddish, from Yiddish to Hindi, Hindi to Japanese, and then finally back from Japanese to English'

came up with a lyrical alternative to the traditional Irish ballad.

First, I tried it with that famous poem of William Wordsworth

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

It took Chinese, Thai, Russian, Japanese, Greek, Vietnamese, Hebrew and Hindi to come up with a dancing tree. Watch out for low flying roots!:

I was lonely as a cloud.
Keep the valley and mountains.
I once saw a crowd.
Ministry of Daffodils.
Lake under the tree.
Tree, dancing in the air.

I think that our government would be much improved through the addition of a Ministry of Daffodils!

I learned from the experience and began again; something a little less obvious this time

Speed, bonnie boat, like a bird on the wing,
Onward! the sailors cry;
Carry the lad that's born to be King
Over the sea to Skye.

Alan had gone Irish, so I thought I'd try a little Scots ballad. Now, I peeked at the English after every translation, moving from Hindi, directly to Chinese, Japanese and Urdu, to this:

Birds, larger aircraft's speed, branches
Go! The sailors cry.
Bring about the birth of the boy king
Sea Skye.

with visions of Polish noblewoman Maria Clementina Sobieska being sped across the sky in a Jumbo jet, cheered on by watching sailors, racing towards Skye to give birth to the Bonnie Prince - making significant changes to the course of British history en route.

Still not quite satisfied, a quick whizz through Chinese and Japanese brought me to this

The old man, he played
He played my drum accessories.
Imbalance and small rice,
The bones of the dog,
This old man was rolling in the house.

I'm sure you can figure my starting point!

But are you able to track this one back to its original. (I confess to it having the school bus additions - translated in the brackets).

I you, I was miles please refer to your
Yl cream  t'at Aberdeen
I you, I was miles please refer to your
Miles here, so I please refer to the (your pants) you,
(Came from?) Bar t'at Ilkley parking
(Came from?) Bar t'at Ilkley parking
(A soccer duck!) Yl cream  t'at Aberdeen

Answers on a postcard to...

Or, alternatively, leave a comment :)

(Apologies for the background highlighting. Copying and pasting snippets of text really mucks up the formatting! I've minimised the damage as much as I am able and bumped up the font size for ease of reading))


  1. I'm probably biased [and totally wrong]
    ... but "on Ilka Moor Bah't 'at"?? seems a probable candidate

  2. Oh the joys of direct translation !
    Love, love, love your translated poems.
    My family is split between Japan and America...
    And let me tell you even with a son fluent in Japanese he still has to ask his wife and family about certain inflections !
    What a great post today !

    cheers, parsnip

  3. What fun! I love the idea of a Ministry of Daffodils. I too think your last one is the song about being out on a moor near Ilkley without suitable head gear!:)

  4. I think all countries would be made better if each had a ministry of some kind of flower. Love the imagery of the tree flying overhead. (I can't for the life of me remember the name of the piece about the old man.)

    As a non-Brit, I'm guessing Sacristan is right about that last one.

  5. What a fantastic game, I'm off to play with google translate!