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Translational game/distributed translation. On Polish translation of See and Spar Between

Stephanie Strickland's and Nick Montfort's See and Spar Between is in many respects a translational challenge that for some languages might even seem impossible to achieve. Polish, our target language, imposes some serious constraints: one syllable words become two or more syllable ones; kennings have different morphological, lexical and grammatical arrangement and most of the generative rhetoric of the original (like anaphors) must take into consideration the grammatical gender of Polish words. As a result, the javascript code, instructions that accompany the javascript file and arrays of words that poetry generator draws from need to be expanded and rewritten.  

In several crucial points of this rule driven work natural language forces us to modify the code. Polish translation of Sea and Spar Between in not only a resultant of affordances and constraints of poetic and programmatical rules, but gains a unique autonomy, especially on the level of code and comments. It is written neither as a 1 to 1 translation of few hundred words that the generator comprises of (a word frequency factor, which guided Montfort’s selection of the generator’s building blocks cannot be applied if only 300 of 1700 poems of Dickinson had been translated into Polish),  nor in the linguistic material of the existing translations of Dickinson and Melville (checked both against the existing translation and the online Emily Dickinson Lexicon, words that were put into javascript arrays had to be quite often translated from the scratch). 


KEYWORDS: electronic literature translation, poetry generator, Sea and Spar Between, open-source, adaptation, generative literature