My brother Rob‘s latest novel, SUCH A KILLING CRIME, was just translated into Italian and he emailed my sibs and myself a computer translation of the first paragraph to see how it looked. Well, those of you who have used the internet translation programs know they are imperfect, and his first paragraph was pretty funny. I often use Babelfish to translate email I receive in other languages (most often, French, Finnish, or Italian). The translations are so poor they make me laugh, but they at least give me the gist of what the writers are trying to tell me. The translation allows me to respond to them in an English email, which they no doubt translate and laugh over in their own language.
labaiaamezzanettocv-chamberlain.jpgRob’s experience prompted me to translate the first paragraph of my La Baia a Mezzanotte (THE BAY AT MIDNIGHT) from the Italian to English. Of course, a good translator never makes a word-for-word translation, but it’s still fun to see how Babelfish interpreted the start of chapter one. 
 For reference, here is the first paragraph of THE BAY AT MIDNIGHT in English:

All children make mistakes. Most of those errors in judgment are easily forgotten but some of them are too enormous, too devastating, to ever fully disappear from memory. The mistake I made when I was twelve still haunted me at fifty-three. Most of the time, I didn’t think about it, but there were days when something happened that brought it all back to me in a rush, that filled me with the guilt of a twelve-year-old who had known better and that made me wish I could return to the summer of 1962 and live it over again.

And Babelfish’s translation:
All the children commit of the mistakes. The greater part of these comes easy forgotten, but some are too much large, too much devastatni in order to disappear never of all from the memory. The error that I had store clerk to twelve years still tormented me to cinquantatre. For the greater part of the time I did not think to us. But there were days in which capitava something that in a flash brought back me all to the mind, than it overwhelmed me of the sense of guilt of a dodicenne aware of to have mistaken and it made to wish me of being able to return indetro to the summer of 1962 and to live again it an other time.
I think it will be a while before machines take the place of human interpretors!


  1. Trina Allen on November 29, 2007 at 2:32 pm

    Thanks for the laugh, Diane.
    BTW, I really enjoyed BAY AT MIDNIGHT. It is one of your books that stays with me. After I read it, I kept thinking about it for weeks.

  2. Ann on November 29, 2007 at 7:32 pm

    Diane, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry!!! That is a horrible translation [if you could call it a that].

  3. Diane Chamberlain on November 29, 2007 at 9:43 pm

    [if you could call it a that].
    Ann, sounds like you have a little Italian in you yourself!
    Trina, so glad you enjoyed BAY. I love hearing that a book stuck with a reader.

  4. Margo on November 30, 2007 at 8:13 am

    Diane, I’m with Ann on this…didn’t know whether to laugh or cry! Like Trina, I loved THE BAY and thought about if for weeks…even read it a 2nd time. All of your books effect me that way and when I finish 1 I leave the book on my night stand for many days as I go through withdrawl, missing the characters.

  5. Rob Lopresti on November 30, 2007 at 10:00 am

    Store clerk? How did they get store… oh, never mind. A few years ago my friend Peter Berryman used a translator program to turn several familiar Christmas carols into something less familiar:

  6. Diane Chamberlain on November 30, 2007 at 12:37 pm

    Oh my gosh, Rob. That is too funny. I particularly liked “I saw Mommy, which embraces the father Christmas under the mistletoe past night.” and “Rudolph the red smelled annuitant had a very much shining nose.”

  7. Margo on November 30, 2007 at 3:40 pm

    ‘if the dad saw only mommy, which embraces the father Christmas the past night’
    Too funny, Rob! Thx for sharing! (-:

  8. brenda on November 30, 2007 at 10:04 pm

    Thanks for cheering me up My husband was taken to hospital by ambulance yesterday. No one will tell us anything…too many doctors. He is going to be released soon, and we will follow up with a doctor we know and get things done The last time this happened-he had stroke and heart surgery. Since I have had numerous strokes, we hate to keep being put off. I needed this web site tonight.
    THANKS again.

  9. Diane Chamberlain on November 30, 2007 at 11:38 pm

    Brenda, you and your husband and family are in my thoughts. I hope this was just a scare and nothing more.

  10. brenda on December 1, 2007 at 6:35 pm

    Finally-after three days received a diagnosis-stroke. This is his second (I have had 3 major and 2 minor)
    We’ll see what happens.

  11. Ann on December 1, 2007 at 7:14 pm

    Brenda, I am keeping you and your family in my thoughts and prayers. Please keep us posted.

  12. Margo on December 3, 2007 at 10:28 am

    Brenda, please keep in touch. Many prayers being sent your way for your husband’s speedy recovery.

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