"The Babel Fish," said The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy quietly, "is small, yellow and leechlike, and quite possibly the oddest thing in the universe." If you stick a Babel Fish in your ear, you can instantly understand anything said to you in any form of language. The reason for this, (though reason is out to lunch right now) is that the Babel Fish feeds on brainwave energy from those around it. It absorbs unconscious mental frequencies from said brainwave energy, to nourish itself with. Then it excretes a telepathic matrix into the mind of its host, formed by combining unconscious mental frequencies with the nerve signals of the brains speech centers. Some thinkers use its existence to disprove that of God.

  1. Take a perfectly decent english sentence - say, "This winsome young thing - a most vexing lass - accosted me in the street with a large banana."
  2. Put it in Babelfish (http://babelfish.altavista.com) and direct the site to translate from english into italian.
  3. Take the resultant translation ("Questa cosa giovane winsome - un lass d' irritazione - indirizzata a me nella via con una grande banana.") and have it transformed from italian back to english.
  4. Laugh at the resulting garbled stuff: "This young thing winsome - a lass of irritation - addressed to me in the way with one great banana."
  5. It gets better as you run through multiple languages: "This winsome boy of the thing - a girl of the inflammation - employs a large banana to me over the way." and finally... "This boy winsome of the thing - a girl of the ignition - uses a great banana with me above in the way."

Babel Fish is fun for snicker-inducing gibberish, especially with music lyrics. Not only do you get great playful results via the wonders of the differences in language sentence structure, but, once you've altered it enough, you are no longer in danger of copyright infringement when you share your amusement!

Take, for example, Duran Duran's delirious Hungry Like the Wolf. copy the first verse and chorus into another language, like, say, English to German. Then translate the results back.

colludes d city, night its line
a steam in d subway, time out mass its a afire
does does does does dodo dododo dodo
Mrs., you requires to me, gives me a character
and intercepts mine breathes even close after
does does does does dodo dododo dodo

in note with d soil I its on d hunt I its after you
smell as I sounds, I its loses in measures
and I its hungry like d wolf
spreads d line in discord and Reim
I its on d hunt I its after you
opening its alive with juice such as wine
and I its hungry like d wolf

hmm, ends up sort of jamaican!!! nice!

Take the second verse and chorus and use another language, like, say, english to Italian, and back again...

Chased in the forest, equally close to hides
I will be on you from the side of moonlight
I make I make I make I make
spirit that tamburella on your skin, it of
dodo of dododo of dodo
the high one is so as to you think my heart strongly,
I is right a moment behind fairies fairies fairies fairies
the dodo of dododo of dodo

In touch with the earth
is on the hunting that are after you
scent and a sound, is lost and found
and starved like the strut of the lupo
on a line, is discord and rhyme
urlo and gemo, is after that mouth
you are inner alive and all the current
and is starved like the lupo

Oh man, i don't know whether to fall in love with the singer or run away!
And, finally, if the song actually contains a third verse or so, why the heck not put it through babel fish a couple of times? there's plenty of languages to choose from. and the most amusing results seem to come from English to French, French to German, and then German to English. Our example results in:

Flared out as the wolf,
which became flared out as the wolf,
that as the wolf flared out became
earth to burn I quantity
I on hunt I after you
to break i smell, as I to be sounded
I destroyed and I found
and I, who became flared out as a prop wolf, pinch off up,
controversy and Reim I on hunt, I, after you
clog living with juice as wine
and I became flared out, that as a wolf

There you have it, what more incentive to wreak havok with Everything Music Lyrics? Or even your favourite Worst Nodes?

Babel Fish is still found at Babel.altavista.com, which now redirects you to Yahoo!'s hosting of the translation service, the last vestige of Altavista, once the largest internet search source in the world. It's also been more and more deprecated by Yahoo, and the above timewaster is better done at Google. Hmm, I'm sure there's an aphorism for this...

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