Linguimericks—Book १५ SpecGram Vol CLXXII, No 1 Contents The SpecGram Linguistic Advice Collective

Google Translate Acquires New Languages

Adham Smart
SpecGram Wire Services

Staff at Google had cause to celebrate on the 12th of December last year, which saw the internet giant announce the addition of ten new languages to its translation centre in the San Francisco Zoo. Following the arrival of the languages to Google’s $40,000,000 enclosure in the zoo, Christine Baalbecqui, Language Acquisition Director at Google Translate, had this to say:

“It’s been a real struggle, but it was worth it. As you know, it takes years of planning and effort to carry out a successful operation like the one we’ve just pulled off, so we’re feeling pretty elated. I want to thank our in-country teams for their dedication and indefatigability in what has been a particularly difficult acquisition process.

“Due to the nature of our work, every success is followed by a greater challenge. The capture of French, German, Spanish, etc. when we first started was frankly a doddlewe just laid a handful of ten-dollar traps around the European capitals and they walked right into thembut as our scope has expanded, we’ve had to work harder and harder to find and bring back the less common languages.

“Of course, we’re only human, and things have gone wrong in the past. I’ll never be able to forget our hair-raising mission to Afghanistan in 2007 where, having escaped after surviving three weeks holed up in an old post office besieged by the Taliban, we couldn’t believe our luck to find Dari, bold as brass, drinking from a watering hole, only to discover when we brought it home that it was almost identical to the Persian we already had... Then there was the first time we tried to bring in Vietnamese, when that idiot intern who was with us at the time opened the door of the helicopter and all the diacritic marks fell out into the Mekong. Oh, and I can tell you that the hospital have said that Cherokee is doing well, and could be discharged in another two hundred years or so, but I think it’s still too soon to bring up the subject with most of our staff, as some of them are still trying to get traces of syllabary off the walls.

“This latest expedition thankfully went almost without a hitch, although it did take one of our teams two months in Khartoum without a single lead to realise it was Sundanese that they were meant to be looking for. As for our next move, I’m pleased to say that our people in Peru reckon they’ll be able to bring in Quechua within the next few months, we’ve got a very promising vowel-baited trap set up in Nalchik for Kabardian, and once we decide whether Swiss German can be considered a dialect with an army and a navy if it’s spoken in a neutral country which is also landlocked, we’ll be taking appropriate action.”

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