Life around the world

Sunday, 7 April, 2013 - 17:45

Babel fish: the universal translator!

by Miranda Clark

A science-fiction series called 'The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy', written by Douglas Adams, is about traveling in space and is hilarious and very entertaining. It is about a man called Arthur Dent who lives on planet Earth, which is going to be destroyed by some aliens who want to build an intergalactic highway.

Arthur is rescued by his best friend, Ford Prefect, who saves his life by transporting them both into space where, through a series of unexpected happenings, their adventure as 'hitchhikers' (people travelling for free on other spacecrafts) begins. In space, not everybody speaks the same language and so Arthur Dent is given a Babel fish by Ford to understand the Vogons, an alien race who love reading (rather terrible!) poetry.

A Babel fish is a small yellow fish which is inserted into one's ear and universally translates any language for you - a bit like having a human interpretor that always follows you round! Wouldn't it be useful if this existed in real life? It would save a lot of misunderstandings between people across the world and even between people and animals! We would be able to travel wherever we like and watch films or listen to music in whatever language and this Babel fish would help us to understand everything!

If we all understood exactly everything then would we lose the appreciation for other languages and the small differences that we can appreciate in each individual language? There are even some words in some languages that are very difficult to translate into others. A Babel fish would only be able to give a rough translation but it's definitely a very funny and imaginative idea for a book! Maybe one day in the future, this could exist!


Do you think that the world would be better if everyone spoke the same language or do you think that it would be less interesting?

Submitted by hermione123 on Tue, 06/01/2021 - 11:40

It'll be a lot more boring if everyone speak the same language. In my country there are over than 700 regional languages. We use Indonesian language to communicate with everyone. So even people who speak different regional language can understand you. Almost everyone here are bilingual. They speak regional language with their family and friends, but they use indonesian in school or formal situation. Every school teaches regional language according to which area they live in. My regional language is javanese. I can understand it well, but I can't make any sentence properly. Lot of my friends are good at it. I think it's cool that so many indonesian people are bilingual. Even trilingual people are very common. Usually they speak one regional language, indonesian and english.
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