Recursive Machine Translation

  • Joshua Evans

Abstract

Machine translation tools such as Google Translate are at best seen as useful approximators, rather than offering any literary potential. In this experiment and short methodological reflection, I use Google Translate to recursively translate Austrian poet Georg Trakl’s celebrated WWI poem, ‘Grodek’, between German and English, until the two versions stabilise. I am attentive to places in which the poem and its renderings are simplified and/or literary value may be lost, but also places in which new or unexpected renderings emerge. This is a preliminary foray, but I propose that the method of recursive machine translation offers a new way to explore the translation of literary texts—a timely proposal, given the increasing applications of computer programmes and machine learning both within the humanities and throughout wider literary culture.

Published
2019-03-24
How to Cite
EVANS, Joshua. Recursive Machine Translation. Neke. The New Zealand Journal of Translation Studies, [S.l.], v. 2, n. 1, mar. 2019. ISSN 2538-0761. Available at: <https://ojs.victoria.ac.nz/neke/article/view/5348>. Date accessed: 20 oct. 2019.