Translation Party

As a speaker of Japanese and English, I find this hilarious. Translation Party is a site that uses the Google automatic translation to hilarious effect. Now the basis is nothing new. Ever since Babelfish came out, people have been using it to translate phrases from one language to another and then back again to hilarious effect. Where this one differs though, is that it repeats the double-translation until the English phrase it gets back is the same as the one it used in the previous iteration. In other words, it translates until it reaches convergence.

For simple phrases it does pretty well. But for more complicated ones it can come up with some really bizarre results. Here’s a tough one I gave it, a couple of lines from the Camelot song in Monty Python and the Holy Grail:

“In war we’re tough and able, quite indefatigable, between our quests we sequin vests, and impersonate Clark Gable.”

The result? “Patience in the war, KURAKUGEBURU spangles to impersonate a good idea to explore is difficult.”

The all-caps KURAKUGEBURU is just Clark Gable. For the first Eng->Jap step it does a pretty good job translating the proper noun into its katakana equivalent, but evidently the English dictionary does not have Clark Gable in it, so it just leaves it in all caps and anglicizes the Japanese pronunciation.

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