Karl-Erik Tallmo on 13 Nov 2000 14:10:09 -0000

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[Nettime-bold] Re: <nettime> until the text becomes ' produces ' the left sidewith us see...

wade tillett wrote:

>I was wondering how much text degrades as it is put into a translator. As
>an experiment, I have entered this text into babelfish and had it
>translate from french to english and from english to french until the text
>becomes 'stable.' Let's see...

Nice idea, Wade! I did something similar a couple of years ago, translating
the famous opening lines of Finnegans wake into French and German and back
into English, ending up with the oddly distorted phrasing "riverrun, after
the day before and to the Adam's, the version bank for the curve of the
drawer", see http://art-bin.com/art/ababele.html ...

Coming back from a linguistic tour like that brings to mind the Bradbury
story where a guy travels back to palŠozoic or Jurrassic times,
accidentally steps on a butterfly, and back again finds signs and posters
oddly misspelt.

I guess the idea to translate back and forth until the pendulum stops,
makes us end up in a sort of interlinguistic state. Or at least it could be
such a thing, if machine translators were really able to parse and not
relied as much on word and phrase dictionaries. In the future, maybe we
will have a sort of blank language for machines that is not shaped into any
natural human language until somebody demands an output. Then, and only
then, will it become, English, Spanish, German or Tagalog - spoken or

Karl-Erik Tallmo


   KARL-ERIK TALLMO, Swedish writer, lecturer,
   and expert on new media. Phone +46 (0)708 24 44 13

   Articles and lectures at http://www.nisus.se/archive
   "From Gorgias to Gore": http://www.nisus.se/gorgias

   Editor of THE ART BIN at http://art-bin.com
   Five year anniversary: Max Klinger - Teleteaching 1899 ...

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