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Seven Great Speeches Ruined In Translation

Yes, it's 2009 and I still don't have a jet pack, hovercraft, or condo on the moon. When you think about it, this future sucks.

However, we are making progress toward a Star Trek-like Universal Translator; there are many web sites just waiting to translate most any text in and out of most any language. It's fast, it's convenient, and it works about as well as the translator in Mars Attacks.


The following are excerpts from six great works of oration (and one famous bit of writing) run through a popular translation website; once from English into Japanese and again from Japanese back into English. It makes one wonder if Americans and Japanese have ever understood each other. Oh, wait...

7. Genesis

The Speech:

"In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters." Book of Genesis, The Bible

The Translation:

"With beginning, as for God the heaven and the earth were drawn up. The earth died, form and the space the darkness was on the surface being deep; And mind of God was moving to the surface of the water."

Although technically not a speech, creation seemed like a good place to start. In the Japanese version, the earth dies in the first 15 seconds or so, which kind of ruins it for me.

Pictured: Moments after creation, God accidentally drops the world and breaks it.

6. The Gettysburg Address

The Speech:


"Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal." --Abraham Lincoln


The Translation:


"The score of thing four which is the same where all people were drawn up and 7 years ago this continent, it is brought up with new nation, it is free and our fathers who are imagined, and are lifted up to proposition."

Pictured: Abe Lincoln and his imaginary father.

5. Win One For The Gipper

The Speech:

"I've got to go, Rock. It's all right. I'm not afraid. Some time, Rock, when the team is up against it, when things are wrong and the breaks are beating the boys, ask them to go in there with all they've got and win just one for the Gipper. I don't know where I'll be then, Rock. But I'll know about it, and I'll be happy." --Ronald Reagan in Knute Rockne, All-American.


The Translation:


"I go in order to shake, it becomes. That is favorable. I do not fear. Thing is the wrongdoing, when the being broken eye has struck the boy, the team you ask vis-a-vis that it has when and exactly one for Gipper win thing in order to enter there with everything being those, time, the stone. I me somewhere the stone do not know then whether it is. But I know concerning that, it is happy."

"With everything being those, time, the stone!" No wonder he beat Mondale so handily.

4. Pearl Harbor Announcement

The Speech:


"Yesterday, December 7th, 1941-a date which will live in infamy-the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan." --Franklin D. Roosevelt


The Translation:


"Yesterday, date December suddenly and was attacked prudently by the navy and the air force of 1941-a Japanese has lived in the dishonorable United States of 7 days empire."

"They will pay for this wise decision!"

3. "We Shall Never Surrender"

The Speech:

"We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender." --Winston Churchill


The Translation:


"As for us those perhaps the air grows with strength and the sea and the ocean which are confided and grow and in France in the edge in field with the land of landing is cost with the beach, us fight with anything, us it fights, us it fights, us our islands which are protected, us it fights, us it fights, us fought with the hill the continuation and as, it fights; We do not hand under any condition."

"Us it fights! Us it fights! Up with which we shall not put!"

2. Old Soldiers Never Die

The Speech:


"Old soldiers never die; they just fade away... And like the old soldier of that ballad, I now close my military career and just fade away - an old soldier who tried to do his duty as God gave him the light to see that duty. Good-bye." --Douglas MacArthur


The Translation:


"The old soldier does not die under any condition; They atrophy exactly; And like the soldier where the folk song is old, I that God gave the light/write to him in order now to look at the obligation closed the carrier of my troop simultaneously, the exactly old soldier - tried the fact that obligation is done, it atrophies. Way if."

Way if, dude.

1. I Have A Dream

The Speech:


"And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!" --Martin Luther King, Jr.


The Translation:


"When and this happens, when us that from all villages and all villages, trying to sound from all states and all cities, us God' where freedom can increase the speed of that day of us; When trying to sound entirely; Spirit song of the black to whom the child of s, Protestant and the Catholic follower of the black man and the white, the Judean person and the strange Japanese are bonded the hand, are old, " You can sing with word; Being last, release! Being last, release! In omnipotent God, being last is we, appreciate freely!"

"Yes, even those weirdos in Japan."