A wierd little experiment

So, if you click here, you end up at something called Babelfish.

Babelfish is this translation tool.  You input words in a certain language.  It outputs them in a wide variety of other languages.

My geekiness, curioisty, and poetic nature all conspired.  (Maybe these are all the same thing.)

I was curious how good it was.  Among the practical problems, translating is as much an art as a science.  There are so many words which don’t have a direct equivalent.  Particularly abstract ones.

If I was fluent in any language it would be fairly easy to check this.  Much to my discredit, I am monolingual.  I have a brain like a black whole for languages.  It occured to me, though, that I might begin with a certain phrase, have the site do it’s work, and then take that phrase, translate it into a third language, and then translate this back into English.

Presumably any errors picked up along the way wouldn’t be corrected, with each generation mistranslations would only grow.  For this reason, it’s a pretty big challenge. 

It occured to me that the things that result might end up being kind-of interesting in their own right.  I have this love for what Sting (in the song “Shape of my heart”) Called “the aesthetics of chance”.  I decided I’d start with something well known, and full of abstractions.  Perhaps because Memorial Day is only a few days ago, I settled on The Pledge of Allegience.

I took it line by line.  I subjected each to translations in 3 languages before translating it back into English.  This is what I ended up with:

I connect loyally ; for that; S flag.

And in republic for which it is

A nation under God

Indivisible correctly for everyone


Considering the difficulty of the challenge, I’d say that’s actually pretty good fidelity to the original.

My next projects:

Choose a poem, perhaps something by Frost, and run it through this process.

Take a non-English translation of the bible and use babel fish to translate it, and compare to the English translation of the bible.

Choose some of my own writing, and run it through and see what happens.


I’d like to invite you to post any cool things you discover while playing around with this rather cool little thing.



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The stories that speak to our soul begin at a home where things are good. Cinderella is happy with her father. The three little pigs have grown up and are ready to move on. Bilbo Baggins knows his shire. Adam and Eve walk with God in the garden. My story isn’t much different. There was a time and a place where it was so good. There was a community for me. And there was joy. We were filled with a sincere desire to do what God wanted us to do. We possessed explanations and understandings that went a certain distance. We offered security and tradition and laughter. For a lot of years, that was enough. I have this sense that it was also necessary. I have this surety, now, that it certainly wasn’t everything. There were some things that became increasingly problematic as time went by. There was a desire to package things up so very neatly. Sunday morning services were efficient and strategic. Responses to differences of opinion were premeditated. Formula began to feel more important than being real. A real desire for everybody to be one of us, but also a real sense that there is an us, and there is a them. They carried a regret that it has to be this way, but deeper than this regret was a surety that this is how it is. I began to recognize that there was a cost of admission to that group. There were people who sat at the door, collecting it. Those people wished they didn’t have to. But I guess they felt like they did have to. They let some people in, and they left others out. There was a provisional membership. My friends did possess a desire to accommodate people that are different… But it would be best for everyone concerned if they were only a little bit different. I did make many steps forward in this place. Before I went there, there were lies that I believed. Some of the things that I learned there, I still hold on to. But that place is not my home anymore. Those people are not my community anymore. There were times it was hard. I am engaged in a different community now. And I am working hard at finding a place in many different places now, embracing many different kind of families. I don’t always get it right. I am trying and I am learning and I am moving foreward. I have this sense that I am not alone in these experiences. I believe that we are tribe and we are growing. We are pilgrims, looking for a new holy land. Perhaps we won’t settle on the same spot of land. But if you’ve read this far, I am thinking that we are probably headed in the same general direction. I have begun this blog to talk about where my journey is taking me. In every space, we find people who help us along. And maybe we can get to know each other, here. We embrace ideas that provide a structure for the things we believe, and perhaps we can share these too. Maybe we can form a group, a tribe, a community, if we can figure out a way to work through the shadow of these kinds of groups, if we can bigger than the us-and-them ideas that have caused so much trouble in the past. As important as they are, I think the very nature of online interactions will lend itself to something equally powerful. I am stumbling onto these practices that my grandfathers and great grandfathers in the faith engaged in. I am learning about these attitudes and intuitions are so different than the kinds of things we call doctrine today. I don’t know about you, but I am running out of patience, and even interest, in conversations about doctrine. I hope that maybe you’ll share a little something about where your journey is taking you, and maybe our common joys and challenges might help each other along, and we might lift each other up. Thanks for doing this journey with me.

3 thoughts on “A wierd little experiment”

  1. I how think certain ones in doubt, to glitter, glitter, a little the star! With respect to the world it probably will promote, to be high, like the diamond of the sky! When burning the sun which is attached goes, when him nothing shines, show you the light/write, to glitter a little, glitter, all nights.

    (Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, first 2 verses via Japanese)


  2. Is self-explanatory, it respects, these truth in compliance with us they are from life, freedom and tracking between of these happiness, specification transfer in compliance with their creators who have the right which is impossible it all people who are given equally, was created is preserved.

    (Declaration of Independence, via Korean)


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