For sheer charm, nothing beats the Babel fish featured in Douglas
Adams's "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" and its sequels. Pop one in
your ear and the fish uses telepathy to translate anything you hear into
your native tongue.

Interesting to note that both the Babel fish and the Honyaku Konyaku are
figured in organic / biological terms rather than computer hardware ... a
shared dream of language technologies as somehow more "lively," exceeding
the cold confines of metal and silicon?


On Tue, 29 Jun 2004, Mark Nornes wrote:

> How exactly did Kirk and Co. speak to all those aliens???
> My son has a favorite translation machine from the Japanese anime
> "Doraemon". The title character, a robot cat, pulls a "Honyaku Konyaku"
> out of his 4 dimensional pocket. Honyaku = translation / konyaku = a
> delicious hard jelly made out of a root. Once someone eats this, they
> can converse with anyone from anywhere in the universe...or history, if
> they happen to be time travelling.
> What other mystical translations machines are out there?
> Markus
> University of Michigan
> ----
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