My previous blog entry discussed fun with technology, and I alluded to the Firefox language extension. Well, that’s quite a simple idea just takes one random term on the page and provides a translation. Still, it’s a nice idea and perhaps there is more being planned. There are some other nice browsing tools too, like rikai, which can provide translations in tooltips.
Well, here’s something I’ve been wanting for a really long time …
Have you read A Clockwork Orange? Anthony Burgess’s characters use slang called Nadsat … here’s a description:
The use of a completely new syntax is utterly magnificent – a stroke of genius. And it proves once again Anthony Burgess’s remarkable ability and facility with languages of all kinds and with words in general. At a first glance the vocabulary of anti-hero Alex sounds incomprehensible: “You could peet it with vellocet or synthemesc or drencrom or one or two other veshches.”
Or: “So I read all about the scourging and the crowning with thorns and then the cross veshch and all that cal, and I viddied better that there was something in it. While the stereo played bits of lovely Bach I closed my glazzies and viddied myself helping in and even taking charge of the tolchocking and the nailing in, being dressed in a like toga that was the heighth of Roman fashion.”
Then the reader, even if he knows no Russian, get to grips with it, and it’s a very expressive and colourful read. Some of the meaning becomes clear from the context: “We gave this devotchka a tolchock on the litso and the krovvy came out of her mouth”, which approximately translated means, we gave this girl a blow on the face and blood came out of her mouth.
See? Nadsat is gradually blended in, and based on the context, you pick up the meaning. Just as children learn to speak, and expats learn the language of their new homes. Let’s see … firefox, rikai.com, Nadsat … are you thinking what I’m thinking?
Yes. It’s simple. Write a browser plugin – or HTTP proxy – that renders the page almost as is, but with words occasionally swapped with foreign terms. I realise there is a downside: it would probably be crude, wouldn’t necessarily handle verb conjugation, etc. But the upside in a world where people spend many hours surfing – huge!
And don’t get me started on splicing podcasts to achieve like effect :-D.