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Parisian Love by Google: Advice to young lovers
February 8, 2010 - By: - In: Machine Translation - Comments Off on Parisian Love by Google: Advice to young lovers

I watch the Super Bowl for the ads, which I suppose is kind of like saying I read Playboy for the articles, except that in the case of the Super Bowl ads, it’s true.  “Parisian Love” by Google was by far the best ad, and it was probably the first time I teared up watching someone else do a Google search. (I tear up plenty on my own searches… try Haiti and you’ll know what I mean.)

The Google ad (first TV ad ever for this advertising firm) tells the story of a romance helped along by a series of Google searches conducted by some guy who finds a new life after a plan to study abroad in Paris turns into love, marriage, and a need to know how to assemble a crib.

But as you can imagine, a guy who goes around the Web calling himself “Translation Guy” is going to obsess on the translation part. And that’s where my suspension of disbelief got suspended ― just at the critical moment when boy meets girl. In a little café near the Louvre, that certain someone says to him, “tu es très mignon,” which Google instantly translates into “you’re very cute.”

Now, it’s hard enough to find the perfect woman (even harder if you’re looking for the perfect man), but how on earth are you ever going to find a lover who only speaks the kind of French that Google’s exécrable translator can handle?

And at that critical moment, instead of holding that all-important gaze, this guy is texting the phrase into Google? And how do you key in l’accent aigu on an iPhone anyway? Does this mean they can only meet in places with WiFi? (“Please, not Starbucks again, mon chéri!”)

Doh! So don’t try this at home, or in Paris. You are more likely to earn a coup de main à la Monty Python (une troupe de comiques britannique) than coup de coeur status.  Reminds me of that farm-kid-only-chance-to-impress-the-Italian-supermodel in those language learning ads. Right. ‘Only chance’ as in ‘not a chance in hell.’

Unlike most of my posts, I’m qualified to write about this. Now, it may not have been a café in Paris, but I met my future wife in the equally romantic confines of Osaka Station #3 Building. I won her heart with a couple of lines of poetry, no more than about 30 syllables, which took me three days to memorize, of which all I remember now is hada (skin) and sabishii (lonely). You get the idea…she did too.

A sweet memory, thanks to a sweet ad.  I also remember how I busted my thumb putting that crib together, too.

So my advice to you young lovers is the only advice I could ever get out of my Dad: “Patience, persistence, practice.” Any other language-crossed love stories out there?

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