A lot of the speech and text that we translate serves a purely prosodic function. It is there as filler, to flesh out the rhythm, to make the sentence fit the breath, to create a short story of high notes, low points and a finale. It’s poetry. We take this seriously and try to make the target language perform in all these ways as well, but this is also a battlefield of form versus function. Three similar adjectives in English might sound great, but that greatness might have to be achieved by means other than listing three adjectives in Japanese.

To show prosodic effect stripped of any communicative function whatsoever, here’s the brilliant Alexei Sayles!

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