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Say you're a computer-stuff company, one with an extraordinary-sounding product that can translate recorded speech from one language to another while retaining the original speaker's voice. Maybe you see a potentially lucrative application of this product--the translation process is time consuming, so it wouldn't be practical for face-to-face conversations across language barriers, but it could be used to tailor English-speaking American pop music for non-English-speaking markets. Which artist are you, the computer-stuff company, going to get for your premiere release and proof of concept? How about one half of an insanely talented but commercially unpopular rap duo who just got sent to prison for three and a half years? You genius!
Although part of me is rooting for Voxonic, not only for having what appear to be giant balls of steel but for holding it down for Prodigy, this plan looks like a disaster in the making. Do Urdu speakers really want to hear Prodigy rap at them in their native tongue? UCLA anthropology professor H. Samy Alim thinks not:
"Who wants to hear a poorly translated version of their favorite American song?" he said.
Besides, he added, "How do you translate 'fo shizzle' in a way that retains its creativity and humor for a global audience?"