Hegel Babelised

What would happen if we take a difficult, yet understandable quote from Hegel’s work and run it through Google Translate a couple of times? Going from Dutch to Amharic, through Finnish and Mongolian right up to Croatian and English? The artificial Intelligence of the Google Translate program of course lost track of the meaning of the text. And – just for fun, though I suspect there is a lot more interesting to say about this from a linguistic perspective – here are some of the results.

I started with this older Dutch translation of a text by Hegel – originally in German:

1_001

Which I then translated into English:

2_001

This is pretty close to the original meaning, and so we must applaud Google translate for this high level of accuracy. It only missed the meaning of the text when it came up with “do so”, because this is in the original “do like this”, or “act in this manner”. “So” is close to “Zo” but insufficient. With a little help this could be quite a good translation. But what would happen if we translate into languages that have no relationship with each other at all? I started with the modern Greek rendering:

3_001

And then moved through several languages that I could not understand at all, like Finnish, Amharic, Mongolian etc. until I reached Croatian:

5_001

And finally English – the Croatian is based on the same Bulgaric version…

4_004

Now we see what Google translate ultimately wants to do: to make us dependent without a country.  But that can wait till after the middle. In the mean time we can enjoy the fine poetry of Hegel Babelised!

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