Each Time the Chips Are Downwards...

by Gregg Pearlman


Oh, what a fun, accidental discovery. As I slogged through a digest from one of my excruciatingly endless work-related mailing lists, the last thing I expected was to find anything remotely entertaining or even interesting, but someone posted a question entirely in French, which led one of the mailing list regulars to respond by running the message through the Babelfish French-to-English translator found on AltaVista's site.

Naturally I had to investigate, so I started out slowly with the following poem:

Roses are red.
Violets are blue.
Sugar is sweet,
And so are you.

This was translated into French as:

Les roses sont rouges.
Les violets sont bleus.
Le sucre est doux,
Et ainsi est vous.

And translated back into English as:

The pinks are red.
The purple ones are blue.
Sugar is soft,
And thus is you.

Clearly the possibilities for jolly laughter are endless. Babelfish -- the name comes from Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy; it's a fish you stick in your ear that renders all speech, in whatever language, instantly understandable -- has French, German, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish translators, viz:

Spanish

The roses are red.
The violet is blue.
The sugar is sweet,
And so you are.

German

Roses are red.
Violet ones are blue.
Sugar is sweetly
And thus is you.

Italian

The roses are red.
The viola is blue.
The sugar is sweet
And so as to he is you.

Portuguese

The roses are red.
The violet is blue.
The sugar is candy,
And thus that she is you.

Well, we all know how much fun it is to try and learn to use a new product with instructions that have been badly translated from another language. Perhaps the best are the ones from Japan, but sadly, Babelfish doesn't have a Japanese translator -- however, I'm keeping my fingers crossed.


Being a parent of a small child, I've spent a lot of years hearing this one:

Twinkle, twinkle little star.
How I wonder what you are.
Up above the world so high,
Like a diamond in the sky.
Twinkle, twinkle little star.
How I wonder what you are.

Imagine my surprise in discovering what this song means to French kids:

Flutter, flutter little star.
How I wonder what you are.
To the top of above the so high world,
Like a diamond in the flutter of sky,
Scintillate little of star.
How I wonder what you are.

Now, another source of fun -- I'm not sure how many iterations you can go through with this -- is to take the English-to-French-to-English words, paste them back into the translator, then paste the new French translation back in and see what you get. In this case it's not all that different, but it makes you wonder:

Undulation, undulation little star.
How I wonder what you are.
Jusqu with the top of above the so high world,
like a diamond in the undulation of the sky,
Scintillate little of star.
How I wonder what you are.


How about these for song lyrics?

English

Yesterday all my troubles seemed so far away. Now it looks as though they're here to stay. Oh, I believe in yesterday. Suddenly I'm not half the man I used to be. There's a shadow hanging over me. Oh, yesterday came suddenly. Why she had to go, I don't know -- she wouldn't say. I said something wrong, now I long for yesterday. Yesterday love was such an easy game to play. Now I need a place to hide away. Oh, I believe in yesterday.

French

Yesterday all my troubles seemed left up to now. Now it looks at as if they are here to remain. Ah, I believe in yesterday. Suddenly I am not half of the man whom I had the practice to be. There is a shade stopping above me. Ah, yesterday came suddenly. Why it had to go, I do not know -- it would not say. I said something badly, now I a long time for yesterday. Yesterday the love was a play so easy to play. Now I need a place to hide far. Ah, I believe in yesterday.

German

Yesterday all seemed my troubles up to now away. Now it looks, as if they are here to remain. OH, I believe inside yesterday. Suddenly I am not half man, which I maintained to be. There is a shadow, which hangs over me. OH, came yesterday suddenly. Why it had to go, I do not know -- she would not say. I said somewhat falsely, now I long for yesterday. Yesterday love such was a simple play for playing. Now I need a workstation to hide itself away. OH, I believe inside yesterday.

Italian

Yesterday all my difficulties have seemed up to now absent. Hour observes like if they are here to remain. The OH, creed yesterday within. They are not without warning half of the man that I have used being. There is a shadow that hangs over me. The OH, yesterday has come without warning. Why it has had to go, I do not know -- it would not say. I have said something badly, hour long in order yesterday. Yesterday the love was therefore game easy to play. Hour I have need of a place of nascondersi via. The OH, creed yesterday within.

Portuguese

Yesterday all my problems had seemed absent thus distant. Now it looks at as if they are here to remain. Oh, I believe inside yesterday. Suddenly I am not half of the man who I used myself to be. He has a shade that he hangs on me. The Oh, came yesterday suddenly. Because it had that to go, I do not know -- he would not say. I said something wrong, now I for much time for yesterday. Yesterday the love was a so easy game to play. Now I need a place to hide moved away. Oh, I believe inside yesterday.

Spanish

All my hardships looked like yesterday until now absent. Now it watches as if they are here remaining. Oh, I create inside yesterday. I am not suddenly half of the man who was. Shade is one that hangs conclu’do me. The Oh, came yesterday suddenly. Porqué she had to go, I do not know -- she would not say. I said something badly, now I of length for yesterday. The loving era a game so easy to play yesterday. Now I need a place to hide far. Oh, I create inside yesterday.

Hmmm hmmm hmmm hmmm hmmm, hmmm-hmmmmmm....


Unable to resist, I pasted in John Cleese's main diatribe from Monty Python's "Parrot Sketch":

English

He's not pining! He's passed on! This parrot is no more! He has ceased to be! He's expired and gone to meet his maker! He's a stiff! Bereft of life, he rests in peace! If you hadn't nailed him to the perch he'd be pushing up the daisies! His metabolic processes are now history! He's off the twig! He's kicked the bucket, He's shuffled off his mortal coil, rung down the curtain and joined the bleeding choir invisibile! This is an ex-parrot!

French

It not pining! It passed in function! This parrot is not more! It ceased being! It is expired and will be met its generator! It is stiff! Deprived of the life, it rests in peace! If you had not nailed it with the pole it would raise the daisies! Its metabolic processes are now history! It is in addition to brushwood! It is given a kick the position, it is scrambled in addition to its mortal rolling up, level in bottom of the curtain and joined the chorus of bleeding invisibile! It is a ex-parrot!

German

It pining not! It is led on! This parrot is not any more! It has to be stopped! It to meet over its manufacturer run and gone! It is a rigid! Robs from the life, stands still he in peacetime! If you had not nailed it on the bar, it became the gaensebluemchen high pressures! Its metabolic process is now history! It is away from the Twig! The tub is stepped to it, shuffled it away by its death coil, Rung down the curtain and connected the invisibile bleeding choir! This is a Expapagei!

Italian

Not pining! It is passed over! This parrot is nient' other! It is stopped of being! It is extinguished and gone in order to come to contact of its creator! It is a rigid one! Private of life, it is rested in the peace! If you had not nailed it to the perch it was pushing towards the high daisies! Its metabolic processes hour are history! It is outside of the ramoscello! It is given of soccer to the bucket, is mescolareato outside of its mortal coil, rung down it stretches it and it has made part of the choir of invisibile clearing! That is a former-parrot!

Portuguese

Not pining! It is passed on! This parrot is not not more! It ceased being! IDO is exhaled and to meet with its manufacturer! He is a hard one! Bereft of the life, rests in the peace! If you it did not nail it to the pole would be raising daisies! Its processes metabolic are now history! It is it are of the twig! He is retroceded the bucket, it is baralhado outside of its mortal bobbin, rung below the curtain and joined choir of the bleed invisibile! This is a former-parrot!

Spanish

He not pining! Ignited they happen to him! This parrot is not not more! It has let be! They expire it and they go away to solve its manufacturer! It is a right! Prevailed of life, it reclines peacefully! If you had not nailed it to perca he she would be pushing daisies upwards! Their metabolic processes now are history! It is of the small branch! They strike with the foot the compartment, he it is mixed of its mortal coil, step under the curtain and assembled to the choir of the drain invisibile! This is a ex-dark-brown!


But now, to briefly return to a mode of genuine relevance:

English

When the Giants come to town, it's "Bye-Bye Baby!"
Every time the chips are down, it's "Bye-Bye Baby!"
History's in the making at Candlestick Park!
Cheer for the batter, and light the spark!

If you're a fan of Giants baseball, sing "Bye-Bye Baby!"
If you want to be in first place, call "Bye-Bye Baby!"
Listen to the broadcast on KSFO.
Turn up the volume, and hear 'em go.

With the San Francisco Giants, it's "Bye-Bye Baby!"

French

When the giants come to the city, it is "baby of Bye-Bye!"
Each time the chips are downwards, it is "baby of Bye-Bye!"
History in manufacture with the park of Candlestick!
Encourage for the smooth paste, and light the spark!

If you are a ventilator of baseball of giants, Sing the "baby of Bye-Bye!"
If you want to be in the first place, Call the "baby of Bye-Bye!"
Listen to the emission on KSFO.
Indicate volume, and hear the end of support outward journey.

With San Francisco Giants, it is "baby of Bye-Bye!"

German

If the giants come to the city, it is "Bye Byebaby!"
Every time the chips down are, it "is Bye Byebaby!"
History in forming at the park Candlestick!
Are jubilant for the struck egg paste too and light up the spark!

If you are a fan of the giant baseball, sing to "Bye Byebaby!"
If you liked to be in the first workstation, call "Bye Byebaby!"
On, hearing it for transmission on KSFO.
Turn up the data carriering, and you hear EM go.

With San Francisco Giants it is "Bye Byebaby!"

Italian

When the giants come to the city, he is "child of Bye-Bye!"
Every time that the integrated circuits are down, is "child of Bye-Bye!"
History in making to the park of Candlestick!
They encourage for the pastella and they illuminate the spark!

If you are a fan of baseball of the giants, To sing "the child of Bye-Bye!"
If wished to be in the first place, to call "the child of Bye-Bye!"
To listen to the broadcasting on KSFO.
To turn out the volume and to feel the em to go.

With the Saint Francisco Giants, he is "child of Bye-Bye!"

Portuguese

When the giants come to the city, are of "Bye-Bye baby!"
Each time that the chips are for low, is of "Bye-Bye baby!"
History in making in the park of Candlestick!
Cheer to batter it, and illuminates the spark!

If you it will be a fan of baseball of the giants, sings of "the Bye-Bye baby!"
If you to want to be in the first place, calls "the Bye-Bye baby!"
It listens to the transmission in KSFO.
It turns above of the volume, and hears in going.

With the San Francisco Giants, it is of "Bye-Bye baby!"

Spanish

When the giants come to the city, she is "baby of Bye-Bye!"
Whenever the shavings are down, she is "baby of Bye-Bye!"
History in the manufacture in the park of Candlestick!
They animated batter, and they ignite the spark!

If you are a ventilator of the baseball of the giants, sings the "baby of Bye-Bye!"
If you wish to be in the first place, it calls to the "baby of Bye-Bye!"
It listens to the diffusion in KSFO.
Give return upon the volume, and hear 'em go.

With the Giants of San Francisco, she is "baby of Bye-Bye!"


You want this link. You need this link. Here's this link:

http://babelfish.altavista.digital.com/cgi-bin/translate?


Copyright ©1998 by Gregg Pearlman

Last updated 7/28/98
Gregg Pearlman, gregg@EEEEEEgp.com

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