I thrilled me, or Brundlefly

Whenever fellow WordPress bloggers are kind enough to “like” one of my posts or follow my blog,  I repay the courtesy by visiting theirs.  (I was reared in the American Midwest, where we avoid meaningful conversations but are unfailingly polite.)

Some of my visitors are from other countries and, naturally enough, write in other languages. I know precisely one,  English,  and regularly screw that up,  splitting infinitives and so forth.   So if I want to understand what writers of other languages are saying,  I require translation.

This is where the fun starts, at least for those of us using Google Chrome, which helpfully asks:

translate2

If you hit “Translate,”  you will find what appears to be a perfectly lovely piece of prose, such as this post in Portugeuse (titled, according to Chrome, “I thrilled me”) from As historias de Ed

De repente, de lá do meio do povo, um moço, num paletó desbotado, pelejando para combinar com as calças surradas destoantes, mas com uma humilde vontade de parecer adomingado, junto de uma mulher idosa, em seus cabelos branquinhos, levantou-se de sua mesa e perguntou à senhora da recém-chegada, a que se levantou da “minha mesa”, se ela tinha um real para poder juntar com a nota de dois que ele balançava no ar. “Queria comprar um salgado para minha mãe”, ele acrescentou.

rendered as this:

Suddenly there from the people , a young man in a faded jacket, struggling to match the pants worn dissonant, but with a humble desire to look adomingado, next to an elderly woman in her whiten hair, got up from his desk and asked the lady recently arrival, which rose from “my table” if she had a real power to join with the note two he swung in the air. “I wanted to buy a salty for my mother,” he added.

Now, generations of formally schooled writers have been counseled to “murder your darlings” — to unsentimentally delete dubious prose, especially if one’s ego is attached — but it’s only in the modern age that we have computer-aided translation to serve as hit man.beforeJB

I can’t help but think of David Cronenberg’s cinematic rendering of  The Fly,  in which brilliant scientist Seth Brundle,  played by Jeff Goldblum,  unwittingly splices his genes with that of an insect while testing a teleportation device.

The error becomes evident as the boyishly beautiful Brundle begins to grow coarse, not-human hair,  and later, to shed human body parts.

brundleflypicasaThis kind of development naturally raises questions, which Goldblum feeds to his teleportation computer. Its answers are chilling:  a secondary element — an unseen housefly —  teleported with him, and their genes fused into the mutant horror Brundle is rapidly becoming.

A little backstory: Earlier, we learned that the machine had no problem faithfully regenerating inanimate objects, but blundered when it came to living creatures. It was unable to grasp the mystery — the poetry and the nuance — of the flesh, until its hapless inventor tweaked it.

But when faced unexpectedly with teleporting not one, but two living beings,  it failed again, reconstituting what had been separate  entities  — each beautiful in its own, singular way — into one monstrous mishmash.

Am I making my point?

The scientist reacts with the kind of horror I can only imagine a writer might feel upon discovering her or his work translated by Google Chrome into the linguistic version of Brundlefly.

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Ah, well.  I suppose it’s a good reminder, at least, to not take ourselves too seriously.  As the tagline of As historias de Ed wisely observes:

Todos os dias, vivenciamos coisas diferentes. Quando com sorte, elas se nos apresentam engraçadas.

Or,

Every day, we experience different things. When lucky, they present us funny. 

 

 

 

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10 comments

  1. I’m very new to wordpress and I’ve never commented on any platform before. I really enjoyed reading this thank you.

    Like

    1. Thank you! I’m honored that you would choose one of my posts for your first comment. WordPress is a wonderful platform, especially for free. Be sure to check out the tutorial, https://learn.wordpress.com/ I learned a lot there. Welcome!

      Like

      1. Thank you. I will definitely start working through the tutorials. Feels like I’ve entered a whole new world.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Susan Lukwago · · Reply

    By the way: “I was reared in the American Midwest, where we avoid meaningful conversations but are unfailingly polite.” That is not true for you … even your blog is a meaningful conversation

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. I was being a bit facetious, but the observation is generally true of my family and of many Midwesterners.

      Like

  3. Susan Lukwago · · Reply

    You made your point very well, Cate! Human interpretation – which I deal with daily as I am not yet proficient in Spanish the language spoken by the majority of people I serve – is fraught with challenge: tone, humor, not judgmental inquiry … A machine trying to do that is comical before anything happens … Grateful for the funny. You put a lovely focus on the funny aspects of life. Thank you

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You’re welcome, friend. 🙂

      Like

  4. You made me “puff up” now.
    Thank you very much for being so kind. As I once said, bloggers are, more often than not, extremely kind and friendly. ❤

    Like

    1. My pleasure, truly! I am glad you did not mind that I used a post from your lovely blog as an example of Chrome’s butchery. 🙂 Thanks so much for reading and commenting.

      Liked by 2 people

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