It’s been a few months since I updated this blog. Partly this was because of my end-of-semester crunch after Spring 2015 midterms. I had a lot of work to complete fast. Something had to give. And then came summer classes and, you know, VACATION.
For Christmas, friends gave me Hofstadter’s book “Le Ton Beau de Marot: In Praise of the Music of Language” (BasicBooks, 1997). The book’s summary at Amazon.com nicely sums up its wit and beauty in discussing the art of translation and a whole host of related issues.
”Le ton beau de Marot” literally means ”The sweet tone of Marot”, but to a French ear it suggests ”Le tombeau de Marot”—that is, ”The tomb of Marot”. That double entendre foreshadows the linguistic exuberance of this book, which was sparked a decade ago when Hofstadter … got hooked on the challenge of recreating both its sweet message and its tight rhymes in English—jumping through two tough hoops at once.In the next few years, he not only did many of his own translations of Marot’s poem, but also enlisted friends, students, colleagues, family, noted poets, and translators—even three state-of-the-art translation programs!—to try their hand at this subtle challenge. …
Rife with stunning form-content interplay, crammed with creative linguistic experiments yet always crystal-clear, this book is meant not only for lovers of literature, but also for people who wish to be brought into contact with current ideas about how creativity works, and who wish to see how today’s computational models of language and thought stack up next to the human mind.