LATELY — 17 May 2012

Translating Proust, by Man and Machine

The first two sen­tences of Proust’s Swann’s Way, as trans­lated by man and machine.

Proust’s Orig­i­nal

Longtemps, je me suis couché de bonne heure. Parfois, à peine ma bougie éteinte, mes yeux se fer­maient si vite que je n’avais pas le temps de me dire: “Je m’endors.”

Man

Quite a lot of variation!

Mon­crieff (Project Gutenberg):

For a long time I used to go to bed early. Sometimes, when I had put out my candle, my eyes would close so quickly that I had not even time to say: “I’m going to sleep.”

Moncrieff, as updated by Kil­martin and then Enright (ISBN 9780099362210):

For a long time I would go to bed early. Sometimes, the candle barely out, my eyes closed so quickly that I did not have time to tell myself: “I’m falling asleep.”

Lydia Davis (US ISBN 9780142437964, UK ISBN 9780141180311):

For a long time, I went to bed early. Sometimes, my candle scarcely out, my eyes would close so quickly that I did not have time to say to myself: “I’m falling asleep.”

Machine

Was ex­pect­ing better–Google is the best by far, but they’re all pretty awful, es­pe­cially con­sid­er­ing how well they do on non-literary text.

Google Translate:

Long time, I went to bed early. Some­times just my candle extinguished, my eyes would close so quickly that I did not have time to tell me: “I fall asleep.”

Bing Translate:

Long, am coated me early. Sometimes, just my candle hydrated, my eyes closed so quickly that I didn’t have time to tell me: “I sleep.”

Systran:

A long time, I lay down early. Sometimes, hardly my extinct candle, my eyes were closed so quickly that I had time to tell me: “I fall asleep.”