Computational Poetry: Translating Greek and Italian Popular Songs

Tampakis, Nikitas [Browse]
Senior thesis
42 pages


Fellbaum, Chrstiane [Browse]
Princeton University. Department of Computer Science [Browse]
Class year
Summary note
Machine translation (MT) is the use of computer software to translate bodies of texts across languages. State of the art MT systems facilitate global communication and aid in making human languages universally accessible. Google Translate is the de facto platform used for instant machine-based translations of texts. Although the statistical methods used by the system generally produce fairly reliable translation results, they are not designed to handle poetry. Since most automatic translation systems are guided by already existing parallel versions of texts written in multiple languages, they only work well with previously observed language. Poetry is a challenge to translate because it is formed differently from standard language. Observe the following excerpt from the Axion Esti, written by Greek Nobel Laureate poet, Odysseas Elytis. The original Greek is accompanied by a Google Translate result as well as a translation by scholar Edmund Keeley. The MT result neither makes sense nor is poetic.

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