The Babel fish

25 Oct

Douglas Adams came up with the idea of a Babel fish in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. You stick a Babel fish in your ear and you can instantly understand and be understood by all. But such technological wizardry comes at a price because, by effectively removing all barriers to communication between races and cultures, it has caused more wars than anything else since the beginning of history.

You can watch a 2 minute Youtube clip if you want

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p5mWQFGF7w8

Yahoo! picked up on this idea when they named their online translation tool ‘Babelfish’.

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2 Responses to “The Babel fish”

  1. philipjkerr January 15, 2012 at 4:47 pm #

    Exciting developments in the world of corpus-driven translation!
    Have a look at this:
    http://edition.cnn.com/2012/01/08/opinion/von-ahn-translate-web/
    or just the TED talk that the article refers to
    http://blog.ted.com/2011/12/06/massive-scale-online-collaboration-luis-von-ahn-on-ted-com/
    After re-purposing CAPTCHA so each human-typed response helps digitize books, Luis von Ahn wondered how else to use small contributions by many on the Internet for greater good. At TEDxCMU, he shares how his ambitious new project, Duolingo, will help millions learn a new language while translating the Web quickly and accurately — all for free.

  2. philipjkerr October 22, 2012 at 12:07 pm #

    Automatic phone translation has arrived:
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-20004210

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