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Monday, June 22, 2009

A Japanese Poem of Declarative Programming

This time HANAFUBUKI invites us to a walk in the gardens around the Imperial Palace in Kyoto. I captured some images from the video: click here to see the whole, it is a gorgeous art work.

It is incredible how HANAFUBUKI can find the perfect angle for any image. And as images tell us their own story, it is just incredible how unexpected each new image comes, keeping fresh the story as it unfolds.

But this video is more! While walking through the alleys, HANAFUBUKI starts suddenly to recite a poem. Of course, it's Japanese, so for a foreigner is impossible to understand the words.

You don't understand the words, as you don't know Japanese, but you feel a tension there: each part, the surrounding nature, and the unknown words, claim their truth, their right to say their own story, each one. Story of images, story of unknown words from an unknown language.

So, I was intrigued and I asked the author of the video to send me the Japanese text. I considered using an automate translator, to have firstly a rough version in English, then to work on it.

The English version I got from the automated translator was very rough, and I tried to get the sense of the poem, in order to find the better words and rhymes.

It was an experimental poem, starting abruptly with the declaration of eating a hamburger (!), explaining the meaning of a hamburger, and then refining more and more the explanations.

Well, it sounded weird, but a recent discussion with a nephew of mine gave me suddenly the clue.

My nephew has just majored in Computer Science, and his last exam was of Declarative Programming (the theory behind languages like LISP or PROLOG). As I was talking with him by phone about the exam, and as I was remembering about some work done in this field by a friend of mine, I realized that the poem was not at all weird: it was a funny way of playing with the concepts of Declarative Programming!

So, here is my English version:

I’m eating a hamburger,

This food is cooked beef and bread (two slices).

Well, well, what’s bread and what is cooked beef?

Okay, let me explain:

Let’s designate the wheat flour as the raw material,
Inserting tiny grains of salt (don’t you think it’s dense in water?),
After fermenting with the yeast, and baked inside the four,
Crushing an onion in the chopped meat that’s pulled from the cow,
Crumbling an egg in bread, mixing the seasoning,
Arranging in elliptic shape, and burning on frying pans,
This food is cooked beef and bread (two slices).

And let’s go deeper:

Let’s designate the wheat that’s pulled and powder made as raw material,
Inserting tiny grains of sodium chloride (don’t you think it’s dense in that liquid of chemical H20 compound of hydrogen and oxygen?),
After fermenting with the germ of glucose (or the elliptical monad of Ascomycetes), and baked inside the four,
Crushing a green Liliaceae vegetable in the chopped meat that’s pulled from a Mammalian belonging to the artiodactyls,
Crumbling a fetus produced by a female Galinacee in glutamic acid sodium, mixing the seasoning,
Arranging in elliptic shape, and burning it on frying pans,
This food is cooked beef and bread (two slices).

And let’s go even deeper:

No, please, no, thanks, I’ve got it:

You’re eating a hamburger.

Passing from the English version to a Romanian one was now easy, here you go:

Mananc un hamburger

Mancarea asta-i vita tocata-n doua felii de paine.

(Bine, dar ce e painea? si vita tocata ce-i?)

Pai, definim faina de grau ca materie prima,
Inseram un pic de sare, devine densa-n apa putina,
Apoi o fermentam cu drojdie de bere, si-o coacem in cuptor, usor,
Zdrobim o ceapa-n carnea tocata
ce e extrasa dintr-o vaca,
Batjocorim un ou, zdrente il facem si-l bagam in paine,
amestecam totul sa-i dam un gust anume,
Apoi ii dam o forma eliptica si-o frigem la tigaie, si iese o minune,
Mancarea asta-i vita tocata-n doua felii de paine.

(dar putem merge mai adanc)

Definim graul smuls din ogor si pulverizat ca materie prima,
Inseram un pic de clorura de sodiu, devine densa in compusul de duzina
(lichidul H2O,
alcatuit din hidrogen si oxigen, dar fara rima)
Apoi o fermentam cu germeni de glucoza (sau, daca vreti, cu monada eliptica a
lui Ascomycetes), si-o coacem in cuptor, usor,
Zdrobim o Violacee verde-n carnea tocata
ce e extrasa dintr-un mamifer din
specia artiodactila, o spetza minunata,
Batjocorim un fetus de femela de galinacee, zdrente-l facem, si-l bagam in acid glutamidic,
amestecam totul sa-i dam un gust fatidic,
Apoi ii dam o forma eliptica si-o frigem la tigaie, si iese o minune,
Mancarea asta-i vita tocata-n doua felii de paine.

(Si putem merge mai adanc...)

Nu, nu, sarac de mine, acum am inteles:

Mananci un hamburger.

(The Thousand faces of HANAFUBUKI)



  • did you actually translated the poem from english to latin? or into a latin language (italian?)...by the way could you send me the original text in japanese please ? my adress is mikuro_asamia@hotmail.com

    thanks in advance ^_^...i'm starting to enjoy your blog so much...keep going my friend.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:57 AM  

  • Thank you so much for your wonderful comments!

    Look, I got the Japanese text from Hanafubuki (I will send it to you, of course). I used an automated translator to get a very rough English version (as I do not know Japanese at all). Then I worked on the English version (asking the opinion of Hanafubuki on the text). After having a decent (I hope :) English version, I translated it into my native language, which is Romanian. Romanian language is of Latin origin, like Italian, French, Spanish and Portuguese.

    I'm sorry you do not know Romanian, because this poem sounds very funny in this language.

    Thank you again!


    By Blogger Pierre Radulescu, at 9:48 AM  

  • thank you so much for your brief answer! actually my mother tongues are french and arabian...so i wander if you speak french too? and i've learn japanese at school for three years, as korean and a bit of chinese.

    my second language is english (or should i say third?lol) and i was able to understand some of the romanian text, but i was intrigued because, some letters and sounds, were not typically latin, so i thought it was italian...or some-language near france and with latin origins...i have a friend that does speak latin...anyway...i can't wait to see the japanese version...and great job doing the english version without knowing a word of japanese ^_^

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:11 AM  

  • Well, I speak a bit of French, mainly when I'm in the dreaming mood :) I also used to speak some German and Russian, only after coming to America I was so much in need to adapt to English that I lost the use of them. If I'm trying now to say something in German or Russian, after two words, the third one comes to me in English :)

    I am impressed by your knowledge of Oriental languages, because I am passionate for art movies from Japan, China, Hing Kong, Taiwan, South Korea and I would love to understand them without subtitles.

    But, as a wise man said once, nobody's perfect :)

    By Blogger Pierre Radulescu, at 3:11 PM  

  • hahaha that's so true, i'm also amazed by your knowlege of occidental and oriental cinema! i love cinema too, and i have lots of interest in visual art, like photo-shooting, video-shooting, video and picture design and remodeling, and a lots of interest in asian sociology, psychology, languages and human sciences. the main difference i can notice between you and me, though we both love japanese cinema, is just that i tend to like much more "modern" directors, you often write about ozu and kurosawa (of course they are the foundators) while i tend to relate much more on ryuhei kitamura, sion sono,kinji & gumi fukasaku, Hiroyuki Nakano or even takashi miike. we're kinda completing each others lol i know i might sound rude here but i wander if you're interested in making some interview, or diggest, or documentary with me someday? and why not interview hana fubuki "live" ? lol that's a project i have (actually i wanna interview ryuhei kitamura first)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:20 AM  

  • It is interesting: I arrived at the movies of Ozu (classic) through the movies of Hou Hsiao-Hsien (modern by any means). Now, if you ask me, I think the iconic modern is Wong Kar-Wai (I could be wrong, of course). From the Japanese directors who came after Ozu (and contested him somehow) I saw some movies made by Oshima. From the contemp[orary authors, I saw only a movie by Kore-eda. Maboroshi, it is a real jewell.

    I would like to plan an interview with Yoko Shibata, of course. She's a great video author. Could yu send me an eMail, talking more about you? I would send also kind of an informal resume of mine, and let's see then whether we can collaborate on a more regulate basis.

    By Blogger Pierre Radulescu, at 2:19 PM  

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