Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Artificial Inscrutability vs Human Pattern Recognition: A Challenge

I was messing with the automatic language translation sites on the Internet. I started with the lyrics of a song, translated them from English to French to German, back to French, then back to English, and came up with:

The scandal is currently sufficient
May with the sun them on you
that supplements expensive you;
And the pure light with you
to lead your house in the kind.

Anyone recognize the original song?


  • The song came from an album released in 1968 so there's an age bias in this challenge.
  • The album has been reissued on CD -- I was pleased.
  • I believe the lyrics were actually borrowed from a traditional folk song.
  • Somewhere along the line the translation acquired an extra line (and some extra concepts!) The original verse was four lines long.
  • The original lyrics were comprehensible, although I've got to admit you could probably substitute the translated version into the song and few people would notice.


fred said...

Easy. All i have to do is feed this to a English -> French -> German -> French -> English translator, and i'm don... oh... wait...

Joe Thebeau said...

My first guess would be Jimi Hendrix's "Are You Experienced," second verse:

That your little world wont let you go
But who in your measly little world, (-uh)
Are you tryin to prove to that you're
Made out of gold and-uh, cant be sold

But, that doesn't feel completely right. Thanks for eating up an hour of my day!

-joe thebeau

Dale Wilson said...

I was planning to post the actual lyrics after a decent interval, then the flu happened. Aargh what a awful week.

Hi Joe, haven't heard from or about you in a long time. One of the advantages of a blog is names from the past reappearing.

Anyway, the group was "The Incredible String Band" -- I told you it helped to be "of a certain age."

The song, "A very Cellular Song."

And the lyric:

May the long time sun shine upon you;
All love surround you;
And the clear light within you;
Guide you all the way home.

Don Charbonneau said...

Hi Dale,
I have no idea what the title to this song is but if you ever find out please post it!
Actually, I was doing a google search on a Dale Wilson who wrote several books on train history and happened on your blog which I found to be quite an interesting read.
stay well,
Don Charbonneau