Babelfish and speaking in tongues

After a fellow translator told me that she’d go crazy if another client mentioned Babelfish to her, I thought I’d have a bit of fun at the expense of this Yahoo gadget!

Here is the relevant passage from 1 Corinthians 14 taken from the wonderfully clear prose of the Revised Standard Version.  I was going to use the wonderful King James version of 1611, rightly decribed as “the noblest monument of English prose”, but thought it might be an unfair test.

So with yourselves; if you in a tongue utter speech that is not intelligible, how will any one know what is said? For you will be speaking into the air. There are doubtless many different languages in the world, and none is without meaning; but if I do not know the meaning of the language, I shall be a foreigner to the speaker and the speaker a foreigner to me.

Here it is in Italian  courtesy of Babelfish:

Se in un discorso assoluto della linguetta che non è comprensibile, come qualunque conoscono che cosa è detto? Per voi parlerà nell’aria. Ci sono indubbiamente molte lingue differenti nel mondo e nessuno è senza significato, ma se non conosco il significato della lingua, sarò uno straniero all’altoparlante e l’altoparlante uno straniero a me.

And back into English – wait for it!

If in an absolute speech of the linguetta that he is not comprehensible, as any know what are said? For you it will speak nell’ air. There are undoubtedly many different languages in the world and nobody is without meaning, but if I do not know the meaning of the language, I will be an alien all’ loudspeaker and l’ loudspeaker an alien to me.

So, with the reassurance that nobody is without meaning, those of us translate using the grey matter rather an online gadget  must beware our ultimate fate: we will become alien loudspeakers!

Courtesy of
Happy Alien mini speakers courtesy of

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