Google Translate + Fresh Prince = apricots
by Sal Robinson
If you had a spare hour, would you translate the lyrics of â€śFresh Prince of Bel Airâ€ť into Mandarin, with the help of Google Translate, and then back into English, and then perform them? And then into Chinese, Spanish, Hindi, Arabic, Portuguese, and back into English? And then send that result into Bengali, Russian, Japanese, German, and then back into English? And then through all 64 of the languages that Google Translate currently translates between, and then back into English?
Well, now you have an excuse for not doing your best impersonation of Will Smith rapping the word â€śapricot.â€ť (Honestly, I have no idea how the â€śapricotâ€ť got in thereâ€¦) CDZA, a collective of musicians who make music video experiments, have already done it. Hereâ€™s the video:
The final version of the song is both bleaker (â€śI bring fear,â€ť â€śI have nothing!â€ť) and full of snippets of everyday speech (â€śNext week is no goodâ€ť), suggesting that Google Translate may select for angst and excuses. Also, the apricot disappears. Magic!
Sal Robinson is an editor at Melville House, and co-founder of the Bridge Series, a reading series focused on translation.