Saturday, September 05, 2009

Equilibrium Found!

"The Babel fish is small, yellow and leech-like, and probably the oddest thing in the Universe. It feeds on brainwave energy received not from its own carrier but from those around it. It absorbs all unconscious mental frequencies from this brainwave energy to nourish itself with. It then excretes into the mind of its carrier a telepathic matrix formed by combining the conscious thought frequencies with nerve signals picked up from the speech centers of the brain which has supplied them. The practical upshot of all this is that if you stick a Babel fish in your ear you can instantly understand anything said to you in any form of language. " — Douglas Adams, The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
Unless it was spoken by Sarah Palin, of course. Let me show you the evidence...

I was playing with this clever little site called Translation Party. Type anything in English, and it will translate it to Japanese, and then back to English. What comes back is typically not what you started with. So it translates the new sentence to Japanese again, and then back to English. It keeps going until it hits "equilibrium" -- a phrase that can be translated back and forth without change.

The site, like this blog post, has absolutely no practial purpose.

So, of course, I'm intrigued. I feed Translation Party some words of fortune cookie wisdom: "Doubt is the beginning, not the end, of wisdom." It took 5 translations to hit equilibrium which read "This is definitely the beginning of wisdom."

That's cool. In fact, I think I like that equilibrium sentence better.

So I give the script a favorite quote by Hunter S. Thompson: "Paranoia is just another word for ignorance." I swear the first time I tried it, it found equilibrium in one try. Tonight, it took 4 tries and came up with "It is just another word for ignorance of this illusion." Not bad.

Then I tried a little something from Sarah Palin's famous "death panels" speech -- excuse me -- I mean Facebook status update: "As more Americans delve into the disturbing details of the nationalized health care plan that the current administration is rushing through Congress, our collective jaw is dropping, and we’re saying not just no, but hell no!" The script cranked on for a while, and, uh oh...

I think I broke the Internet! After 18 translations, the script locked at this phrase: "U.S. health officials, the State Council, we Gurupumasen many people, our people who are planning a lot of human intervention in the presence of our people our people's current state is a hell lot of people removed the need to perform the chin."

I guess some things weren't meant to be understood.
"Meanwhile, the poor Babel fish, by effectively removing all barriers to communication between different races and cultures, has caused more and bloodier wars than anything else in the history of creation." — Douglas Adams, The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

1 comment:

Trung said...

i guess translation party couldn't establish any efficiency with her words; therefore no nash equilibrium was reached! haha

on a lighter note, i heard this joke on the tonight show the other day. "sarah palin is 80% done with her book, which means she is done with her book." let's see how translation party would handle that mess!