How well do you know books? Pretty well? Okay then, how well do you know books when their titles have gone through 20 different languages on Google Translate before being translated back to English? Take this quiz with book titles scrambled by Google Translate to find out!
I’m personally tickled by text that’s been Google Translate scrambled. It’s a testament to how complex and nuanced language is, how valuable real human translators are, and sometimes how beauty can be found in the miscommunication.
For this quiz, I used a Google extension called Bad Translator that automatically ran the book titles I chose through 20 random languages before translating them back into English. The results varied in how closely they stuck to the original titles. Some made me laugh. Some of them sound like they could really be bestsellers.
Here’s an example of what happens when I run the first line of Pride and Prejudice through the Google Translate scrambler. The original line is: “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”
Bad Translator tells me: “Everyone knows that a man is happy without a woman.”
Wow. That’s kind of the opposite of what Jane Austen was trying to say. Anyway, let’s get to the quizzing!
Google Translate Scrambled Book Title Answers
WARNING: Spoilers lie ahead! Stop scrolling if you don’t want to see the correct answers to the quiz.
Small Pieces Everywhere = Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
An Unexpected Break = The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
Birds of Prey Know Why They Sing = I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
Wild Blueberries at Outpost Cafe = Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg
Lord They Are Sick = The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee
My Grandmother is Very Patient = My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry by Frederik Backman
A Great Evening Treat for Dogs = The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
We Are Always Available by Phone = We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
Everything is Beyond Me = Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling
One Day I Said Goodbye = Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
Let’s Talk About Rocks = Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin
The Food is Very Smelly = Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal
A Fun Combination = The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
He Died Beautiful = You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty by Akwaeke Emezi
Love When it Hurts = Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez
That’s How War Works = This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone