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Poetic Machine Translation By Google

Translating poetry is a very hard task even for humans, and is clearly beyond the capability of current machine translation systems. “We therefore, out of academic curiosity, set about testing the limits of translating poetry and were pleasantly surprised with the results! We’ll present a paper on poetry translation at EMNLP conference. Wherein, we investigate purely technical challenges around generating translations with fixed rhyme and meter schemes,” stated Google.

“To translate poetry, we not only considered translation accuracy, but meter and rhyming schemes as well. In our paper we describe in more detail how we altered our translation model, but in general we chose to sacrifice a little of the translation’s accuracy to get poetic form right.

As a pleasant side-effect, the system is also able to translate anything into poetry, allowing us to specify the genre, or letting the system pick the one it thinks fits best. At the moment, the system is too slow to be made publicly accessible,” explained Google.

Here’s an excerpt: “Voltaire’s La Henriade, translated as a couplet in dactylic tetrameter“:

These words compassion forced the small to lift her head
gently and tell him to whisper: “I’m not dead.”


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