Try to translate poetry, and to show how crazy it may be try to translate a poem in some distant language into two languages you control. I did it for the Sigiri Graffiti (in Sigiriya) in Old Sinhala into French and English. You have to shift from poetical forms in Old Sinhala to poetical forms in modern English and in modern French. Sinhala is a syllabic poetry like French but English poetry is based on the alternation of stressed and unstressed syllables.

Even worse if you want to think along the line of “Norman wisdom” I am not sure that comparing the smile of the ladies there on the rock to a slice of watermelon with its seeds representing the teeth would be very attractive in our languages because in our languages the seeds of a watermelon are black and to have black teeth is not considered as very attractive, at least for a woman. Ask Google translation to solve that problem. Even with all the “Norman wisdom” Google could summon, I guess from Tristan and Yseult in Norman French, the original ever published version, Google would not be able to solve the problem because Google translate is working on a word for word basis hardly widened to some clusters of words.

You do not need to refer to Japanese translators. Imagine translating, in fact interpreting, German into English. In German the verb of all relative or conjunctive clauses is at the end, so we cannot know what Paul is doing with the bread he is speaking of before reaching the end of the clause: I like when Paul the bread on the table with a knife and sardines eats.

I have done some interpreting in Geneva for some UN events and I can tell you it is funny and the interpreting is often very creative.

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