Google Translational Poetry – Austrian Christmas Edition

I am at the nadir of my online reputation – my Google page impressions plummeted by a factor of about 100. This is very liberating, and I start enjoying the irony of being considered a notorious link scammer. Now I will harvest Google for any weird purpose whatsoever. For poetry nobody will read.

The title says it all. I am running – already questionable – ‘experimental internet flarf poetry’ through multiple languages in Google Translate, in order to enhance it even more. The set of source poems is the second batch of five poems from the Raffle Mop series, Google-powered poems seeded from Google-powered images.

Here are the languages, used in this order:

  1. English
  2. Zulu
  3. Maori
  4. Haitian
  5. Greek
  6. Vietnamese
  7. Icelandic
  8. Latin
  9. German
  10. Esperanto
  11. English

The original poem is displayed to the left, the resulting poem to the right. I try to unveil the hidden Christmas-y aspect in each of them and illustrate it accordingly. In particular, I hope to find an image on Wikimedia both related to that Christmas-y message and to my home country.


since the earliest times

Cosmic Patriarchs
Oh, oh, oh,
This is so inspirational !!

off the most memorable
Congrats for gaining strength!

Follow Along
Web beacons may be used


Ho, ho, ho,
Where is wonderful !!

Thanks to the power!

You may use web beacons

Well, who would not spot that Ho, ho, ho that Oh, oh, oh has been turned into? As if I ordered this for Christmas! Here is Santa Claus in front of an Austrian police helicopter. I don’t know what he did wrong.


I’m still working

What a fun & interesting adventure

It was a culture shock
Ut tellus dolor, dapibus eget, elementum vel

getting a hold of me might be a bit difficult
Name is required

This is for me

The Outlook Me
Fun and adventure that is

It was a shock competition
Go Lands iPhone bikes

I get a little heavy
name required

That fake Latin from the original poem (a snippet of the classical ‘Lorem Ipsum’ filler text on the source website) has turned into Go Lands iPhone bikes. We live in an era of consumerism for sure. The latest iPhone for Christmas!

I searched for an Austrian iPhone or Apple store but all I found were images of the traditional Austrian (or German) Baked Apple. This goes better with Christmas traditions anyway!


he won it handily

It was a perfect mix.
repaving the roadway
What’s happening?

find your own voice
You can join the conversation
Have the time of your life.

Join The Flock
use public transit to get to work

taking undeserved criticism for way too long
you’ve tried everything and nothing’s worked

adventurous spirit trickles in to the boardroom
you can improve your mental space.


This is a good mix.
What has happened?

find their own voice
You can turn the discussion
Often in your life.

Work, public use

Enough time to check
Nothing works tries

Reduction in new cabinet
Duis spiritual space.

This requires more historical, theological, and cultural context – which is out of scope here. But there is spiritual space, and there are sheep (the latter translated from Join the Flock – a hidden encouragement to join a cult?). The logical pick is an image of a Nativity Scene (Christmas Crib). To tell you the truth, I find those creepy – especially if they have plastic sheep. But here is a nicer one – in a nutshell.


a wealth of experience

we can keep up our hard work.
flush the solid waste to the ocean.


Work with us our problems.
Get active
How strong the open sea.

This was a real challenge. First, we see again how the values of our ancestors (wealth of experience) have been transformed into shallow show-off (Display). The traditional hands-on and accountability (we can keep up our hard work) turned into a vague statement that sounds like the scrambled version of a management consulting company’s mantra (Work with us our problems). On the other hand, we see horrid environmental pollution (flush the solid waste to the ocean) replaced by responsible use of natural resources and by even assigning human values to resources as the sea (How strong the open sea). So all I would need is an image showing a management consultant who works as a Greenpeace activist in his spare time. This image would need to be taken at some ocean-protection event on the December 25. I think I have to skip the illustration challenge.

This is the best I can do – trying a different cascade of weird mental connections: A skeleton of a prehistoric fish (?), exhibited in Vienna’s museum of natural history. Actually, the fossil had been found in a village very close to where I live. Actually, carp is or has been a traditional Christmas dinner in some regions of Austria, and I would not recognize the difference in skeletons perhaps.


he is amazing

paint a thin layer on the background
capture the emotional essence of a person
whimsically poignant

The World Unites!
outspoken 24/7 force of nature
in the truly classic sense

We are not responsible for the content


A thin layer of paint
use capricious

Men’s tirade world!
The power of nature and the mouth 24/7
The most common reason

Fermentum no sourdough white
We are not responsible for the content

The last line stands out: We are not responsible for the content. It seems phrases from legal terms are immune to cascaded translation. Maybe the appropriate disclaimer that should be put on pyrotechnic stuff sold before New Year’s Eve.

See an image of Vienna’s maybe most famous cathedral. From  the description of this  image on Wikimedia (which I read after I had already selected the image) the law-abiding citizen learns something:

‘Of course, fireworks within that area of the town (its center, and UNESCO World Heritage!) are disallowed by law. Nevertheless, it would hardly be possible to prevent all those people from igniting consumer pyrotechnics.’

Merry Christmas, eveyone! Thanks for listening in.

Thanks, Bing, for indexing so nicely!

10 Comments Add yours

  1. Joseph Nebus says:

    I like the line “I get a little heavy name required”. I think it’s the conceptual contrast to having a light name.

    1. elkement says:

      Ah, the power of line breaks! I rather read it as:
      I get a litte heavy
      [line break, I’d insert: ‘therefore there is’]
      name required

  2. He was probably speeding with his sled. They must have caught him when he dropped below the speed of light.

    1. elkement says:

      … and now he bribes them with presents :-)

  3. Always a pleasure to read your, literally, thoughtful stuff. I liked Maurice’s suggestion that the genre of the multi-mutated-flarf .. ‘ .. is not quite random but, then again, not quite deliberate and logical. In many ways, a lot like what I suspect the true workings of the mind really are.’ Yes indeed. The mind takes in information (and what do we really know about neural preprocessing (= flarf) that goes on when some modality of electromagnetic radiation stimulates a nerve cell) and then processes it (multiple iterations by Google translate) such that some ineffable electric signals may be distilled as conscious thought. Yes … I think Maurice is right. D

    1. elkement says:

      Thanks a lot, Dave!! As I said it to Maurice it is heartening to your comments in the midst of my ‘Google-Gate’ (… yet another page banned…).

      This connection to the inner workings of the mind is interesting! As I also said below, I recently re-read THE BOOK, my favorite novel, ‘Microserfs’. Not much is really happening in this book in terms of plot and action, but it is nerdy introspection done brilliantly. The main character tries to figure out what a machine would think or thinks – and philosophizing about AI is one of the threads in this book (though it is quite down-to-earth on the other hand). The main protagonists writes down what a machine would think … and it sounds EXACTLY like my poetry. I have read it so often, but I forgot about this one.

  4. I read this earlier today but got distracted first by the Webmaster tools (thanks again for showing me how to validate the site) and then by work both at work and at home. So, the distractions meant I got to appreciate the poetry two times. I find it amazing at several levels. First the complex process by which you arrive at the original poem is an interesting study in intelligence itself. Its not quite random but, then again, not quite deliberate and logical. In many ways, a lot like what I suspect the true workings of the mind really are. Then there’s that transformation you put them through. Once again I am reminded that all artists construct derivative works and are not always quite sure of how they do it. Perhaps your method is not too far off what some use themselves however subconsciously.
    I should also add that I very much appreciate our sense pf humour :-)

    1. elkement says:

      Thanks a lot, Maurice! I is a nice Christmas present to read your comment and Dave’s as I just discovered that Google also eradicated my 2nd top page from the index.
      You have explained my ‘artistic’ process in a way that honors me :-) Actually, I have recently seen (re-read for the 10th time, but had perhaps forgotten) a piece of art that was not so different, even in style: Douglas Coupland’s novel Microserfs (that deserves a dedicated review in its own right) is perhaps my favorite favorite favorite book. Coupland gives a brilliant account of nerdy sub-culture I can even more relate to than to his weird protagonists in Generation X. The main character tells the story, and in addition to all the other hilarious introspection he keeps so-called subconsciousness files. These files (written by him) should contain his computer’s thoughts. What should I see – this literally reads as my various attempts at poetry. I can’t even rule out I had been influenced by this, subconsciously!

  5. howardat58 says:

    Merry Christmas and Feliz Navidad to you too. This stuff of yours is really funny. I had a good read. I was wondering if there was a style checker for latin or swahili, just wondering, I have no interest in the answer !
    I came across a (probably well known but not by me) quote from Andy Warhol – “Art – it’s what you can get away with”.
    Maths is not as exciting – my biggest daily page view so far is 56 !

    1. elkement says:

      Thanks, Howard! The Warhol quote is great, and new to me!
      After Google penalized me for attempts at writing about Quantum Field Theory (with my crime most likely being a perfectly valid backlink by a physics book author) I am just exploring my options as an experimental internet artist instead!

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