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Navy Unveils Polyglot Chat For Iraq 306

An anonymous reader writes "According to ScienceBlog, the U.S. Office of Naval Research, trying to keep friendly armies in Iraq from accidentally blowing each other to smithereens, is helping create software that connects instant messaging (IM) with machine translation (MT). The result: Chat software to be used in Iraq that automatically translates your messages into the correct language of the reader, called the the Coalition Chat Line - it's 'getting rave reviews from U.S. and allied-coalition personnel.'"
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Navy Unveils Polyglot Chat For Iraq

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  • Finally! (Score:4, Funny)

    by Space cowboy ( 13680 ) * on Monday March 08, 2004 @02:28PM (#8500441) Journal
    The US and UK troops will be able to understand each other! Two nations no longer divided by a common language :-)

    • Ah, English (Score:5, Funny)

      by Faust7 ( 314817 ) on Monday March 08, 2004 @02:36PM (#8500559) Homepage
      Two nations no longer divided by a common language

      Indeed. I can't tell you how many fights erupt when a Brit asks a Yank for a cigarette.
    • Re:Finally! (Score:2, Funny)

      by WorkEmail ( 707052 )
      Ur Bomb almst pwnaged us you n00bs! Watch that friendly FYRE. = translate. ha ha ha
    • Re:Finally! (Score:3, Interesting)

      Aint that the truth! One of the most common reasons for UK tourists in the USA getting into embarrasing situations has to be the simple act of going into a shop and asking where they keep the "fags". It is comical how the most innocent word can mean something very different in another language. I was recenty in Denmark, on my way through the city of Odense I passed a sign with a big arrow on it above which was written: "Middlefart". In Danish that is perfectly innocent but in English.....
    • Re:Finally! (Score:3, Funny)

      by paranode ( 671698 )
      British soldier: Cheerio chaps. Would you blokes help me and me mates tool-up?
      Translator: You have big American penis. Can you hand myself and my troopers some guns so we might be able to fight alongside your battalion of big American penises?

      American soldier: Uh.. sure, yeah. *Looks down, smiles*
    • Re:Finally! (Score:2, Funny)

      by Mantorp ( 142371 )
      if it can be expanded to parsel tongue, elvish, 1337, and klingon you could have something for this crowd.
    • I think you are forgetting about the rest of the "Coalition of the Willing".

      Oh.. wait. Never mind.
    • Re:Finally! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by SuperBanana ( 662181 ) on Monday March 08, 2004 @03:20PM (#8501044)
      The US and UK troops will be able to understand each other! Two nations no longer divided by a common language

      Joke as you will, but we shot down more British soldiers due to stupid screw ups than were shot by Iraqis. Maybe instead of translators, we should be writing control systems for our automated missile defense systems that don't suck, and putting someone a little more responsible and trained than 18 year old dropouts at the controls. In at least one incident, it was because Patriot missile batteries kept identifying helicopters and planes as inbound missiles. If the operator doesn't stop it after about 10 seconds, the battery fires a missile by itself. Two harriers and at least one helicopter(I believe it had close to 30 British troops on board) were shot down that way. Nobody survived.

      It's pretty fucking embarrassing that our troops and their computer systems can't tell the difference between a helicopter and a missile traveling at nearly the speed of sound, and that a system which was routinely proven to have unacceptable friendly-fire targeting problems was deployed so heavily(and when problems surfaced as expected, to meet a threat that didn't exist, the systems were not shut off). As always, technology is being hauled in to solve a problem other technology and sheer incompetence created.

      • Re:Finally! (Score:5, Informative)

        by YrWrstNtmr ( 564987 ) on Monday March 08, 2004 @05:05PM (#8502432)
        someone a little more responsible and trained than 18 year old dropouts at the controls

        I know it's hip to denigrate the education levels of the US military, but you couldn't be more wrong.

        DoD has established a floor of 90% of recruits have HS diplomas.
        The Army and Navy meet that 90%, the Marines at 95%, and the Air Force at 99%.
        The military takes in very, very few Tier II (GED) or Tier III (non GED or non diploma) recruits. And those people must score at least in the top 1/2 (Army & Navy) or top 1/3 (USAF) on the ASVAB entrance exam.

        And the typical 18 year old (brand new E-1 or E-2) is not at the controls of that thing by himself, if at all.

        Two harriers and at least one helicopter

        Got any further info on that? Because no, there was no British helo shot down in OIF by a Patriot.

        March 23 - Tornado
        April 2 - Possible F-18 Hornet
        Patriot destroyed by F-16 after it locked on to the Viper
    • From what I've read about the number of poor Hispanics 'volunteering' to go to Iraq, I think the UK-Spanish translation module may need some extra resources.

      There aren't significant numbers of anyone other than US, UK, Aussies and Poles over there anyway, and the Poles probably speak the best English of the four, so what's the point?

      (OK - I know Aznar has sent a couple of dozen troops, and there are maybe a few Italians knocking about, but 'coalition'? Jeez...)

    • yeah, I bet that filter was real hard...

  • by robslimo ( 587196 ) on Monday March 08, 2004 @02:29PM (#8500453) Homepage Journal
    Given the quirks of babelfish and similar, I hope poor, mangled machine translations don't cause more negative incidents than they prevent.

    • by Seehund ( 86897 ) on Monday March 08, 2004 @02:36PM (#8500552) Homepage Journal
      The Mil Spec version of this story, courtesy of Babelfish:

      An anonymous reader writes "in accordance with of ScienceBlog, the office of the research of the blue marine and the tests, of the roast meat in the United States the friendly armies in Iraq of the disturbance that to maintain those cause smithereens, to the application software locally those the communication (IM) immediately with a machine translation (M.Ue.), to attention. The result: One automatically translates of Plaudern in Iraq the software, those his publicity in the correct language of the reader, the city of Koalition-Schwaetzchen-Linie - ' it receives from Raveberichte of the United States and the coalition of the alliance of the personnel '

      Mmmmmmm.... Roast meat!
    • by k98sven ( 324383 ) on Monday March 08, 2004 @02:39PM (#8500608) Journal
      American soldier: "Can you provide support? We're in a bit of a jam here"

      Polish soldier 1: "What is he writing?"

      Polish soldier 2: "He asks if we can prop him up, they are covered with a piece of marmelade"
    • by cybermace5 ( 446439 ) <> on Monday March 08, 2004 @02:41PM (#8500624) Homepage Journal
      I'm pretty sure that Babelfish is just a toy compared to the stuff you pay for.

      However, I'd be impressed by the developers if they resisted the temptation to throw in "easter eggs" at one-in-a-million intervals. "please designate 8 of your troops for west bunker guard tonight" --> "your mother is as ugly as five camels and weighs more"
      • Actually, you can't get much better than Babel Fish with current tech. Human languages are VERY hard - are an AI problem.
    • This software would have to be extremely complicated and recognize tons of slang and be updated very frequently.

      It is an awesome idea though, I would give Kudos to whichever company succesfully impliments it. I have tried BabbleFish [] and Free Translation [], and they do an ok job for the most part, but for something as precise and advanced as war, I think it would be hard to do.

      Also this transmission would be being transmitted wirelessly, and would be subject to eavesdroping, so it's encryption will have t

  • Microsoft patent??? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by javatips ( 66293 ) on Monday March 08, 2004 @02:30PM (#8500472) Homepage
    Was it microsoft that applied for a patent related to automated translation with IM? Maybe they can now sue the Navy and get event more licensing revenue!
  • More methods for the enemy to be able to figure out your location. Just what troops need!
  • by James A. J. Joyce ( 759969 ) <[wrt] [at] []> on Monday March 08, 2004 @02:31PM (#8500484) Journal better than you may think. Though it is as difficult as everyone says to translate a random text from one language to another, translating short texts in a specialised domain between well-linked languages isn't too hard. Heck, they might even be able to get away with using lookup tables.
    • Language better than you may think.

      I expect it is actually a lot worse than most people think. Yes, in specialised areas where you can use lookup tables it can work pretty well. But that's hardly suprising is it?

      For general texts it sucks bigtime.

      • For general texts it sucks bigtime.

        I took a look at the Natural Language Toolkit [] for Python, which focuses primarily on statistical language processing. For example, given a tagged training copora, you can build conditional frequency distributions that say "natural language" is usually followed by "processing."

        I've wondered if this is easier or harder in a more heavily inflected language like Latin or Russian. I would think a brute force approach would be complicated by the variety of endings, but that

    • You obviously have not read the manual that came with my new motherboard.

  • Now if only.... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Steamhead ( 714353 )
    They released it to others... preferably open source, so that one might be able to better understand a friend far away.
  • by plams ( 744927 ) on Monday March 08, 2004 @02:31PM (#8500495) Homepage
    ArmyGuy26: a/s/l? ^_^
    GunD00de: 28/m/over here!
    ArmyGuy26: LOL! almost blew ur head off!
  • What we say: "We want to help you."

    What they hear: "All your base are belong to us!".

  • by CamSauce ( 704322 ) on Monday March 08, 2004 @02:33PM (#8500516)
    Maybe now the guy that works at the pizza place can finally understand my order. When does the public get this software?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Y'know, during the war, a few of us became somewhat familiar with the layout of Baghdad, from looking at satellite maps and reading Salam Pax and such, looking up bomb targets, etc. We probably knew the city better than some Iraqis. And it struck us... wouldn't it be ironic if a bunch of Americans went to Iraq and became cab drivers?
  • by Faust7 ( 314817 ) on Monday March 08, 2004 @02:34PM (#8500524) Homepage
    Chat software to be used in Iraq that automatically translates your messages into the correct language of the reader, called the the Coalition Chat Line

    Iraq doubleplusgood / Iraqpersons secure / foodwater supplies up 82% / Kerry verging crimethink / oldthinkers unbellyfeel Bush / think in Bushspeak.
  • Hoy hemos matado a un terrorista --> Today we to eat a dangerous ista.
    Wir haben es nicht gewust --> Wine is not a sausage.
    Wie wis joe a melly klistmas --> We whish you a Merry Christmas.

    No offence meant. :-)
  • what? (Score:5, Funny)

    by visionsofmcskill ( 556169 ) <.vision. .at.> on Monday March 08, 2004 @02:35PM (#8500536) Homepage Journal

    US: our base is protected


    UK : Your Base is under control


    Pol : Your Base Is Inside our control


    Jap: All Your Base Are Belong To Us


    Iraq : Well No Sh!t sherlock.


  • by gmuslera ( 3436 ) on Monday March 08, 2004 @02:35PM (#8500549) Homepage Journal
    That is intended to help peace in such regions? Wonder what amount of casualties could start simple phrases like "greetings to your mother". At least if its read in english you know what it tried to say, but if the original meaning is lost with translations that had some non-diplomatic implications, well, the risk is high.
    • Even human translations that do not take culture into account can be problematic. Witness the diplomatic fallout from Khruschev's off-the-cuff comment "History is on our side. We will bury you." Interpreted in US culture, it implied that Russians intended an active role in seeking our death and burial. Khruschev was expressing his belief that historical forces would let them outlast us, and they would still be around when our nation died. A more truthful translation would be "We will be present at your buri
      • Except that that would actually be:





        Or some such. It's been a while since I did ARTY control software; computer message syntax is from memory, and has probably changed.
  • Whoops, I was just about to make a joke about emoticons from female American soldiers automatically displayed wearing veils at the other end, but it's the wrong country. I recycle that joke when this technology starts being used with Saudi Arabia or Iran.
  • by lifebouy ( 115193 ) on Monday March 08, 2004 @02:36PM (#8500557) Journal
    Hey, like it or hate it, Esperanto can be taught in just a month or two, to a level allowing excellent communications. I think its great to have such software, but that doesn't help face to face, whereas everyone learning a neutral language will help in every situation. So if we are going to pour money down a funnel, lets pour it down the funnel that has long-term benifits for mankind.
    • by forand ( 530402 ) on Monday March 08, 2004 @02:59PM (#8500828) Homepage
      How can you think Esperanto is a neutral language?! It is compose solely of romanctic languages! I just watched Incubus [](the only movie made in Esperanto and it has William Shattner) and you can pretty much undestand it if you know english and some french/italian/spanish(choose one) now for someone who doesn't speak a romantic language learning this is not going to be easy. Also forcing a culture to learn your language is not the way to make friends.
      • How can you think Esperanto is a neutral language?! It is compose solely of romanctic languages!

        If that were true it might actually be easier to learn, at least for those speaking any language of European origin. In fact, there is a lot of Germanic and Slavic in there as well, but most of it is so unpredictably distorted it's hard to recognize. In addition, many frequent words as well as the grammatical structure are entirely contrived and bear no relation to any natural language.

        For a more naturalistic

    • by Zathrus ( 232140 ) on Monday March 08, 2004 @03:00PM (#8500834) Homepage
      Esperanto can be taught in just a month or two

      Really? To anyone? I suspect that non-Western language speakers, like virtually anyone in Asia, might disagree. As well as those with rather esoteric languages like Hungarian.

      And as for those who speak languages that are similar to Esperanto (namely any Germanic or Romantic derived language) could learn any given langugage "in just a month or two, to a level allowing excellent communications".

      doesn't help face to face

      Which is why we have personal translators for that situation, which do exist and do work. You can even get them for civilian use.

      Esperanto was dead before it was even born. It doesn't evolve with any civilization and so lacks terminology that comes into usage over time. And, heck, if we want to pick a popular "neutral" language, then Klingon beats Esperanto for number of speakers. Yes. It is that silly.
    • Yeah, but only if you do it Shatner-style [].

  • Finally! (Score:3, Funny)

    by rmohr02 ( 208447 ) <mohr@42.osu@edu> on Monday March 08, 2004 @02:36PM (#8500562)
    A real Universal Translator! Now if they can only fix these problems [] in time.
  • both in IM and online forums (thinking of none in particular). Of course being a devout spelling nazi myself I don't need one, but it would spare me from seeing others' mistakes.
    • IANANES (I am not a native English speaker), please don't look at this comment too closely ;-)

      I don't like spell checkers. They catch all the trivial mistakes that you mostly just read over anyway, give you a nice feeling that the text is okay, but then they leave the really grave, embarrassing mistakes in. Most spell checkers should more accurately be called typo checkers. I English, they're able to also analyse grammar a little, beause it isn't all too complicated, but firstly this is absolutely not an o
  • original:
    "Our troops will be to your left doing field exercises for 24 to 48 hours, please disregard hostile sounding noises during that time"

    english to japanese, then japanese to english:
    "As for our troops there is a noise of sound of the enemy between that you ignore on your left which does 48 hour field exercises from 24"

    english to korean, then korean to english:
    "Our unit in 24 48 hours in your left which does a hazard field exercise, the sound which will be hostile during that hour which disregards me will connect a sound arresting"

    pray for our troops
    • No wonder the tech manuals for motherboards are horrible - they're using babelfish to translate them from Korean (or Tiawanese, Japenese, whatever) to English.

    • I've never understood why people feel it is reasonable to translate something to a language and then translate it back as a test of a translator. Given that in many cases there are no 1:1 mappings between words due to cultural differences a "best fit" must be chosen, and there will always be some problems coming back the other way.
      • 1) It's funny.

        2) It's the modern day version of a fictional game in a Phillip K. Dick story. (Sorry, don't remember which one. I just remember that The Sun Also Rises was used as an example.)
      • I've never understood why people feel it is reasonable to translate something to a language and then translate it back as a test of a translator.

        If your critique was regarding superficial, stylistic issues of the language generated, it would be justified. However, if what you get back does not make any sense whatsoever, it is reasonable to assume that the intermediary version in the 'other' language doesn't make any sense either, and that the translator is absolutely worthless. Thus it is reasonable to pe

    • Two-way translations are a useless test of a translator. Just like with lossy compression, doing it twice gives results that are much, much worse than only doing it once. To really test a translator, you either have to find some text in a language you don't understand and translate it to one you do and see how well you understand it, or you need to be bilingual. I just tried your phrase with the Fish's English->French translation and it was perfectly understandable. Of course, French is a lot easier to t
      • Two-way translations are a useless test of a translator.

        No, they just show how crummy computer translations are. If you used did a similar test with human translators, you would get a similar text back most of the time. With good human tranlators, little if any meaning would be lost.

        Don't call the test useless just because computers do so badly at it. It shows how difficult translation is.
    • by Ozan ( 176854 ) on Monday March 08, 2004 @04:23PM (#8501831) Homepage
      Well I translated it to German using the fish and out came "unsere Truppen sind Ihr links, das Feldubungen 24 bis 48 Stunden lang tut, missachten bitte feindliche klingende Gerausche waehrend dieser Zeit" (umlauts adjusted), which, some broken grammar aside, describes completedly what the english writing sender intends to do and what he is asking from his hypothetical German colleagues.

      Translating it back returns "our troops are it left, which do field exercises 24 to 48 hours long, ignore please hostile sounding noises during this time"
  • Yikes! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pubjames ( 468013 ) on Monday March 08, 2004 @02:41PM (#8500635)
    The article starts with a question:

    So how do you get soldiers and commanders speaking different languages in a theater of war to communicate effectively and not, for example, blow each other up mistakenly?

    I think there is a simple answer to that question - use human translators! I would never trust a machine translation with my life.

    I speak a second language to reasonably high standard, and so I realise that languages can be really subtle things. Sometimes things just don't translate directly, and they need interpretation e.g.

    Non-English speaking soldier How's the new weapon system working?

    US soldier It's hot! Damn hot!

    Non-English speaking soldier Oh dear! It shouldn't be hot! You must stop using it immediately!

    US soldier No I mean it rocks!

    Non-English speaking soldier It's fastenings are insecure? Sounds like we should send an engineer immediately! Please cease using it!
    • Solution: A sticker across the top of the device in all appropriate languages: "AVOID USE OF SLANG". Well, that's a partial solution. You also have to not hand it to an idiot.
      • Re:Yikes! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by pubjames ( 468013 ) on Monday March 08, 2004 @03:07PM (#8500903)
        Solution: A sticker across the top of the device in all appropriate languages: "AVOID USE OF SLANG". Well, that's a partial solution. You also have to not hand it to an idiot.

        But the problem isn't just slang.

        I have taught languages, and one of the things that you realise is that people that don't speak a second language actually have a hard time analysing languages and realising what is colloquial, for instance, or when a sentence is simple for a foreign language speaker and when it isn't.

        So many English speakers will think a sentence like "we've been set up" is very simple, because it uses little words, whereas many who have English as a second language would find it difficult to understand. ("Set up" is a phrasal verb, the "up" completely changes the meaning of the verb "set").
        • Someone intelligent however will learn not to say things like "set up" and instead say "made to look guilty when we were not", which should be much more translatable. (My first instinct was to use the word "duplicitous" which is a word which has a clear meaning but which might not be translated well, so I omitted it.) And I am hardly the most intelligent person on the planet.
        • we think in memes.

          We happen to use words to express the memes but we don't think in words.

          Regardless, its the old: "I know you think you understand what you heard but I don't believe that you understand that what I said was not what I meant."
    • Re:Yikes! (Score:2, Interesting)

      The DoD has a shortage of translators at the moment, taskings come down all the time for foreign language volunteers. In fact, those that speak some of the more complex languages, (i.e. Arabic, Korean, Japanese, etc..), can cross-train any time they wish. I'm not sure what type of IM system the navy is moving to, AFAIK, (keep in mind I'm in the AF, and have only worked with the Navy for a month), ships use an IRCesque protocol on private servers to communicate back and forth with mIRC/MS Chat. As long as y
  • So the troops can have a better feel as to what their counterparts see when they send a message, the message is always converted at least once, so english to english is converted twice:

    "To take thanks care of this goal, which we did not determine." was actually "Thank you for taking care of that target that we failed to notice."

    Wait until you see the transcripts of their off duty exploits...

  • I beleive that the working name is MTIM, but is commonly referred to by the users as "Mr. TIM"
    Unfortunately, due to a contracting snafu, the codebase centers largely around Microsoft Bob, dubbed by the same users as "Ms. Bob"
    The premise of the software operates on the belief that there are only certain phrases that troops will need to share. For example, an Iraqi and Canadian can collaborate effortlessly on a word processing document, but "Don't shoot them, they're friendly" requires additional modules be
  • i think it was this movie (maybe startrek?) that uses this technology, but in an advanced state...they are able to understand each other because of the chip on their clothes that does translations on the fly. So, that lizard guy could talk to the 'Last Starfighter'.

    so what does this mean? well, if this is a precursor to said technology, it must be good.

    wow...what a good movie. i think i'll go rent it tonight....
  • You can do this, too (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bmetz ( 523 ) on Monday March 08, 2004 @02:49PM (#8500736) Homepage
    Sametime (IBM's instant messaging product for the enterprise) has had this for some time:
  • by b0z0mind ( 697506 ) on Monday March 08, 2004 @02:52PM (#8500763)
    ...since Iraq was originaly the Babylonian empire :-)
  • ...machine translation is capable of syntax correction for the target language. Any 10 year old kid with the appropriate tables can do a word-for-word translation. Getting syntax right and accounting for slang and non-standard usage--there's the rub.
  • Specifically, back when I was a co-op in late 2000, I wrote the proof-of-concept demo versions of TrIM, the software that Coalition Chat is based off of. Over the years, I've gone back to TrIM and its related projects a few times to work on various updates. Now that I'm a full-time employee at MITRE, in the same department, people keep passing me along news of TrIM's exploits. I read the title of this article today and thought, "Wow, that sounds familiar". *grin*
    • In a similar boat, but in my case another contractor picked up the contract and is getting all the recognition. Still, I get the warm fuzzies knowing somthing I wrote is still being used and is appriciated.
  • Overheard (Score:4, Funny)

    by bgeer ( 543504 ) on Monday March 08, 2004 @03:01PM (#8500845)
    Iraqi: I will not buy this record, it is scratched.
    Soldier: Sorry?
    Iraqi I will not buy this record, it is scratched.
    Soldier: Uh, no, no, no. This is a patrol.
    Iraqi: Ah! I will not buy this *patrol*, it is scratched.
    Soldier: No, no, no, no. (holds up his rifle).
    Iraqi: Ya! Mil-teh-ree! Ya! Uh...My hovercraft is full of eels.
    Soldier: Sorry?
    Iraqi: My hovercraft (pantomimes hefting a rifle) full of eels
    Soldier: Ahh, insurgents!
    Iraqi: Ya! Ya! Ya! Ya! Do you you come back to my place, bouncy bouncy?
    Soldier: Here, I don't think you're using that thing right.
    Iraqi: You great poof.
    Soldier: Look, just move along please.
    Iraqi: If I said you had a beautiful body, would you hold it against me? I...I am no longer infected.
    Soldier: Uh, may I, uh...(takes notebook computer, types in a phrase)...Costs six and six...ah, here we are. (speaks weird Iraqi-sounding words)
    Iraqi punches the soldier.
  • by ottffssent ( 18387 ) on Monday March 08, 2004 @03:01PM (#8500850)
    I sure hope the military's got better machine translation than the rest of us do.
  • by flogger ( 524072 ) <non@nonegiven> on Monday March 08, 2004 @03:03PM (#8500863) Journal
    Hello. I am in Iraq. My Grid Coordinates are XY76543421, and I think that I may shoot at some guy that is pissing on the only tree out here.

    In German:
    Hallo. Ich bin im Irak. Meine Koordinaten des Rasterfeldes sind XY76543421, und ich denke, daB ich in irgendeine Einzelperson dieses pissing im einzigen Baum in Richtung zu drauBen werfen kann hier.

    Into French:
    Hallo. Je suis en Iraq. Mes coordonnees du champ de trame sont XY76543421, et moi-meme pensent que je peux jeter celui-ci dans un particulier pissing dans le seul arbre en direction dehors ici.

    Back into English:
    Hallo. I am in Iraq. My co-ordinates of the field of screen are XY76543421, and myself think that I can throw this one in a private individual pissing in the only steering shaft outside here.

    Meaning: WTF?

  • straight from the fish:

    "Ali Baba at 9 o!"

    "Ali Kuchen bei 9 o!"

    "Ali cake with 9 o!"

    I hope the US mil. has a beter babelfish...

  • Now if we could only combine the legendary accuracy of automatic translation software with the untouchable stability of voice recognition... Throw in the tremendously successful Israli-developed voice truth indicators and the completely weatherproof M16, and you have a formula for successful rule in Iraq.

  • by PylonHead ( 61401 ) on Monday March 08, 2004 @03:12PM (#8500943) Homepage Journal
    is full of eels!
  • by DR SoB ( 749180 ) on Monday March 08, 2004 @03:16PM (#8500975) Journal
    Well, since in the last 10 years only 4 Canadians have died as a result of direct military combat, all 4 of them the result of US Friendly fire, will it translate Canadian to American as well? Oh wait, I guess we all speak English.. So much for that..
  • Sent: Send reinforcements, we're going to advance

    Received: Send three and four pence, we're going to a dance

    Sent: We need to be supplied with a palette of 70 survivalist kits

    Received: We need to be supplied with a palette of 70's revivalist kits
  • by LS ( 57954 )
    Why is Babelfish used as the main example as to why machine translation doesn't work? Is Babelfish the best out there? Does it represent the state of the art in machine translation?

  • Why this will never fly.

    #10 Some of our Middle Eastern allies will become
    offended by always being greeted with the
    message, "Are you female?"

    #9 Enemy troops will always know our location
    simply by logging on as "1337BustyBlonde" and
    typing "a/s/l"

    #8 "Dood, ph33r my m4d fr@gg1ng ski11z" doesn't
    have the same ring as "Mess with the best, die
    like the rest."

    #7 Along those same lines, "All your base are
    belong to us" does not have the same ring
    as "Veni, Vidi, Vici"

    #6 Spammers will be responsable for one of t
  • by voss ( 52565 ) on Monday March 08, 2004 @03:47PM (#8501363)
    Never flame the guy with the flamethrower ;)
  • Whatever it takes to get people to stop shooting.

    Of course I'd want it over a secure VPN too. No sense in letting the other guy pause the action while he reloads.

  • I was reading an article in Canada's The National Post yesterday that interviewed an English speaking Iraqi. He said that a lot of Iraqi's are detained or apprehended needlessly at US guard checkpoints simply because they cannot speak English to the guards.

    The interviewee used to do translation for the US army, but after an incident he is now being sought as a member of the former Iraqi army. Despite this, he still has less trouble going through checkpoints simply because he can explain his business in Eng
  • by braddock ( 78796 ) on Monday March 08, 2004 @04:50PM (#8502189)
    Instant messaging was a vital communication method during the Iraq war. I was recently involved in a privately-funded study and interview series on the Iraq war.

    Ground-based voice communications were poor during the war because forces moved too fast and were too spread out for the out-dated ground-based voice network to catch up. One of the most vital communication links then became the satellite based instant messaging feature of the vehicle-mounted Blue Force Tracking system, which tracked force locations with a GPS and satellite uplink, and provided unit location mapping.

    There were many stories of guys in tanks who's only communication link with command at times were their Blue Force Tracking instant messaging system. IM isn't just for 16 year old girls anymore.

    Blue Force Tracking, though not widely enough deployed, was one of the biggest technological successes of the war, and was directly responsible for the almost perfect friendly-fire record in the war. The instant messaging feature was practically an after-thought, but we were very lucky we had it, even in limited deployment, and it proved itself as a mature war-time tool.

    Conversely, the 507th Maintenance Company incident, where Jessica Lynch was captured, could have been prevented if they had the Blue Force Tracking system. They were last in a convoy and fell behind their convoy a couple miles, at which point they lost radio contact, and didn't know the exact convoy route without the convoy realizing they had fell behind. Now the first and last vehicle in an Iraq convoy is almost always equipped with a Blue Force Tracking unit so that the convoy leader immediately knows of a straggler and is always in communication with them via instant messaging.

    Braddock Gaskill

Adding manpower to a late software project makes it later. -- F. Brooks, "The Mythical Man-Month"