Malinda Kathleen Reese joined YouTube in 2010 as a teenager. At first, she simply posted church music or videos about music programs in her area. Then on 10 February 2014, she posted a video with the following introduction:
“So you know how if you put something into Google Translate, and you translate it into another language, and you try to translate that back into English, it’s usually not what you put in the first time? And often times, it’s not even close. Well, two of my high school friends came up with the brilliant idea of putting famous works of literature through several layers of Google Translate and putting it back into English and dramatically reading it out loud and hilarity always ensued. And I recently thought, okay, what would happen if I put song lyrics into Google Translate…”
That, combined with her obsession with the song “Let it Go” from Disney’s Frozen, resulted in a hit that has been watched millions of times.
After the success of this video, Malinda launched “Google Translate Sings.” Her song parodies — truly more unsubtle mockery of the state-of-the-art in the machine translation industry — have since covered hit songs from Lorde, Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande, Miley Cyrus, and Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody.
Her most recent video of Adele’s “Hello” shows what happens when you take lyrics “from English, into languages like Korean, Macedonian, Japanese, Icelandic, and Uzbek… and back into English…”
While it is humorous to see how poorly many lyrics are rendered, it is also salient to notice how many concepts and, occasionally, entire phrases survive the worst of such abuse and mangling.
Machine Translation (MT) is as yet no substitution for high-quality human translation, especially in technical fields, but it is getting better every year. Our translators at e2f often work with companies who use MT for a first-pass translation, and then use our translators as editors, to catch the flaws and defects the automated tools still can’t detect. For instance, human translators may simply rewrite a sentence entirely to stay true to the intent and meaning of the original language rather than translating a sentence with awkward grammar or phrasing.
For now, watch a few of Malinda’s videos, and see what stands out most for you. Enjoy!