My hovercraft is full of eels
April 9, 2016 6:29 PM   Subscribe

A very useful phrase translated into every language you've ever heard of.
posted by Chocolate Pickle (62 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite

 
Thanks. I'd been searching for exactly this.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 6:31 PM on April 9, 2016 [5 favorites]


"See me? See eels? Mah hoavercraft's pure hoachin."

Oh, Glasgow, never change!
posted by droplet at 6:35 PM on April 9, 2016 [8 favorites]


My nipples explode with delight!
posted by nubs at 6:36 PM on April 9, 2016 [9 favorites]


Well, you just killed my evening. All I have to say about that is, "Buta wa buta no uta o utau."
posted by mordax at 6:36 PM on April 9, 2016 [2 favorites]


See also the I Can Eat Glass project.
posted by Faint of Butt at 6:39 PM on April 9, 2016 [7 favorites]


Hittite? There's no Hittite. I want Hittite.

Wait, wait, what? No Gothic either?

I'm not even going to go look for Akkadian. I'll just be disappointed.
posted by ursus_comiter at 6:43 PM on April 9, 2016 [2 favorites]


Why two different Klingon translations? Have dialects emerged?
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:59 PM on April 9, 2016 [7 favorites]


No Tamarian?
posted by sourwookie at 7:04 PM on April 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I'm gonna really need the answer to that, and not just a brush-off, but the big Metafilter nerd answer with details.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 7:04 PM on April 9, 2016 [5 favorites]


Hungarian: A légpárnás hajóm tele van angolnákkal
posted by prepmonkey at 7:09 PM on April 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


Would you like to come back to my place: bouncy bouncy?
posted by Cookiebastard at 7:10 PM on April 9, 2016 [4 favorites]


I was delighted to find that it has genuine audio pronunciations!
posted by key_of_z at 7:16 PM on April 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


I'm not even going to go look for Akkadian. I'll just be disappointed.

They do have Sumerian, which makes me disappointed I've never seen one of their hovercrafts.
posted by traveler_ at 7:18 PM on April 9, 2016 [3 favorites]


I got issues with the Japanese one. What if your hovercraft is full of saltwater eels?
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:25 PM on April 9, 2016 [12 favorites]


And if you own a hovercraft, you should be ore, not watashi.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 7:27 PM on April 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


And if you own a hovercraft, you should be ore, not watashi.

Bullshit. Women can own hovercraft too.
Equal opportunity aviation, yo.
posted by telepanda at 7:31 PM on April 9, 2016 [19 favorites]


I'd just drop the I all together in Japanese.
posted by AlexiaSky at 7:32 PM on April 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


Telepanda, if you own a hovercraft you should be ore even if you're a woman.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 7:34 PM on April 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


Nah, gaijin sound like idiots when they try to be edgy. I'm a well-mannered eel-transporting hovercraft pilot.

I am however concerned about the possible inaccuracy in the provenance of my eels.
posted by telepanda at 7:39 PM on April 9, 2016 [8 favorites]


If you want something even more useful, Wiktionary has translations for water in about 2,000 languages.
posted by dilaudid at 7:40 PM on April 9, 2016


There's room for all kinds of hovercraft pilots. Anime has already done teams of girls piloting (or embodying) planes, tanks, and ships (twice), guess hovercraft are next.
posted by Rangi at 7:44 PM on April 9, 2016


See also "Oh my god, there's an axe in my head!"
posted by asterix at 7:45 PM on April 9, 2016 [4 favorites]


They do have Sumerian, which makes me disappointed I've never seen one of their hovercrafts.

Isn't that the plot of Snow Crash?
posted by Itaxpica at 7:47 PM on April 9, 2016 [15 favorites]


So, I invented the aforementioned "I Can Eat Glass Project" It was the early days of the internet and there wasn't much to do at the time, so I got a lot of visits. At one point it was being used as a teaching tool at UT Austin, and it was also a winner of "Weirdest of the Web" from Yahoo magazine (that was a thing).

I later calculated that it took me about as much time as it did for Jerry Yang to create Yahoo, which was happening at the same time. I still think I choose wisely.

I didn't realize it was preserved in all of its Wired-era hideous background mid 90s glory. Thanks!
posted by blahblahblah at 7:49 PM on April 9, 2016 [42 favorites]


If I were a linguistics professor, I think I'd start my discussion of highly synthetic languages with the fact that, in Nahuatl, this information can be communicated in two words. (For those who often find themselves with this issue, the two words are "Noehēcatlapalqui cōāmichtēnqui.")
posted by ostro at 7:56 PM on April 9, 2016 [9 favorites]


Personally, I would probably use boku.


I'm just a regular guy who owns a hovercraft that happens to contain a large number of freshwater and/or saltwater eels.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 8:02 PM on April 9, 2016 [5 favorites]


Tamarian?

Course at Southsea
His face black, his eyes red
For Abaia, her fish stolen
As the gaderene swine possessed.

Hovercraft disaster (fatal, prompting grief and despair) caused by powerful vengeful eel (infestation, uncountably many, evil, deserved punishment)
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 8:05 PM on April 9, 2016 [6 favorites]


You have to go to the bottom of the page, but there, in the company of things like Klingon, Romulan, and Pig Latin, are some decent Esperanto translations, so I won't complain.
posted by uosuaq at 8:09 PM on April 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


Shaka, when the eels moved
posted by lalochezia at 8:34 PM on April 9, 2016 [13 favorites]


I am trying to stuff as much Dutch into my head as possible before heading to the Netherlands on Monday (it keeps falling out.) I was looking at Omniglot to grab a phrase, got to the bottom of their list of common/useful phrases, and my nipples exploded with delight when I discovered that some of these people are precisely my kind of dorks.

Mijn luchtkussenboot zit vol paling!
posted by louche mustachio at 9:00 PM on April 9, 2016


Earlier today, MeFi's Own The Whelk reblogged something wonderful about Norway's 2011 Butter Crisis and a flawed translation: “We drove out of the lubrication”.
posted by oneswellfoop at 9:06 PM on April 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


Needs more Swedish Chef. Bork bork bork!
posted by spacewrench at 9:07 PM on April 9, 2016


I'm glad there are a few people left that admit that they like Monty Python. It seems to have fallen far out of favor to the point of derision. I know it's all overquoted to Hell and back, but every time I return to watch the episodes I thought I knew like the back of my hand I discover different nuances or technical flourishes that are absolutely brilliant.

I started watching it at what most would consider far too young an age, but I'd say it was a damn fine formative influence - being able to find humor and weirdness in everythi ng hasn't made me successful, per se, but damned if it doesn't make life more fun.
posted by louche mustachio at 9:12 PM on April 9, 2016 [12 favorites]


They don't even have two of the languages I speak (Urdu and Punjabi), let alone all the languages I've heard of. Harumph.
posted by bardophile at 9:27 PM on April 9, 2016 [2 favorites]


I used to have bookmarked, but can't find, a page listing how to communicate, in multiple languages, that I have diabetes.

I recall that in Arabic it was literally "I have the sugar disease" which seems almost poetic, somehow.
posted by stevis23 at 9:58 PM on April 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


Yeah, people rarely use ziabitees, the 'proper' Urdu word, either. In casual conversation in Urdu, diabetes is simply called shoogar.
posted by bardophile at 10:16 PM on April 9, 2016


(For those who often find themselves with this issue, the two words are "Noehēcatlapalqui cōāmichtēnqui.")

But does that take any less effort to say than "my hovercraft is full of eels"?
posted by wotsac at 10:22 PM on April 9, 2016


Haha, the second line in Vietnamese actually says "speaking in one language is never enough". I'm not entirely sure why they put that there. I guess I'm Vietnamese it doesn't talk translate well?
posted by numaner at 10:35 PM on April 9, 2016


Listening to the recordings, some languages seem designed to be spoken quietly out in the bushes. Some seem to have been developed while actively drowning. Basque has an other earthly sound and they call eels dagos. (maybe) The Basque snippet sounds so different in comparison to any of the other languages. In my next life I want to speak all languages. I guess I will be plugged in somewhere in Silicon Valley. What a great post!
posted by Oyéah at 10:50 PM on April 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


^ explain Hungarian then.
posted by louche mustachio at 11:26 PM on April 9, 2016


And some doubt the value of the Internet!
posted by telstar at 11:34 PM on April 9, 2016 [2 favorites]


This has been a great resource for me for many years.

Great, in that when a developer tells me that the software under test fully supports Unicode, this is one of the things I throw at it.

Hint: The developer is usually incorrect.

Don't even ask what happens to software when you mix left-to-right and right-to-left scripts. While I am a mean bastard to software, after doing such a thing I usually buy the poor programmer a beer, in an effort to raise their spirits.
posted by drfu at 11:56 PM on April 9, 2016 [11 favorites]


Awesome - there are many languages in the list where google translate cannot make head or tails from it, and google search immediately gives you the translation.
posted by DreamerFi at 1:14 AM on April 10, 2016


They don't even have two of the languages I speak (Urdu and Punjabi), let alone all the languages I've heard of. Harumph.

Punjabi's there, I think. Urdu seems like a big one to miss out, though.

The Maori translation seems to have got quite a bit of traction on the web, even to the point of an Australian travel agency suggesting it as a phrase to use to impress the Kiwis...
posted by Pink Frost at 2:26 AM on April 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


Basque has an other earthly sound and they call eels dagos. (maybe)
From listening, I'd guess aingirez is eels - I wouldn't have guessed from reading the word, but the sound of it is similar to anguilles (which is the French eels).
But yes, there are so many languages! And so many where you have no idea what is going on!
posted by mumimor at 2:27 AM on April 10, 2016


I'm choosing to take from this thread that Japanese has its own word for "I" specifically for people who own hovercrafts, and no amount of actual facts will convince me otherwise.
posted by eykal at 4:46 AM on April 10, 2016 [7 favorites]


Creole! Where is Creole!
posted by Mike Mongo at 5:05 AM on April 10, 2016


Where is ASL?
posted by Obscure Reference at 5:28 AM on April 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


Mit luftpudefartøj er fyldt med ål means 'my hovercraft is filled with eels' - it should be Mit luftpudefartøj er fuld af ål.
posted by Dysk at 5:54 AM on April 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


it should be Mit luftpudefartøj er fuld af ål.

It's OK. We still got to the bouncy bouncy.
posted by Obscure Reference at 5:57 AM on April 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


So, I invented the aforementioned "I Can Eat Glass Project"

Fantastic! You've been a great influence on me.

Back in the day, a friend and I tried to collect various translations for "I would like to fight a smaller guy," which we deemed an exceedingly useful phrase. We didn't get much farther than "Quiero luchar con un tipo mas pequeño, por favor" and "Motto chiisai yatsu to tatakaitain desu kedo."
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:34 AM on April 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


MetaFilter: My hovercraft is full of eels

Someone had to post it
posted by DBAPaul at 8:32 AM on April 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


I once spent some time in the Netherlands, and even though most speak decent English there, I grabbed a phrase book before I left. It was very weird. Rather than phrases like 'How are you doing?' it had things like "The door is ajar" and "These are not my shoes"

I used to try to come up with situations where I would actually use one of the oddball phrases in this little book without someone thinking I'm nuts. I think I only used one: right before I left I got a haircut, and proudly said "Niet te cort!" (not too short).
posted by eye of newt at 8:33 AM on April 10, 2016 [3 favorites]


I appreciate any and all linguistic Monty Python shout-outs, but someone really needs to do the same thing for "Please fondle my buttocks."
posted by SansPoint at 9:10 AM on April 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


Metafilter is full of eels and it's hovering.
posted by nangar at 9:31 AM on April 10, 2016


Hovercraft: My Metafilter is full of eels.
posted by nubs at 9:35 AM on April 10, 2016 [2 favorites]


Omniglot is a great website that's been around for a while. It's run by a hobbyist (I think) who tried to make a catalog of all the known writing systems.

One of the things that I find most fun is listening to the collection of people reading the first lines of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in so many different languages.

It certainly doesn't have "every language you've ever heard of," and he relies on user submissions rather than translating these himself. So if you speak a language that's not represented, you can send a translation in. "Every language you've ever heard of" is not a claim this guy makes--that's just the post framing.

The second Vietnamese one is just on the wrong page, because One language is never enough is another phrase he's collected. I'm guessing that someone sent in both phrases, but he didn't realize it.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 9:52 AM on April 10, 2016 [2 favorites]


If they're going to have a Scots dialect from the central belt, it's disrespecting the coast that's actually attempted to use hovercraft to translate into Glaswegian rather than an Edinburgh accent. Of course, like nearly all hovercraft routes, it's not succeeded commercially.

My flatmate regularly travels across what I think is the only stretch of water with passenger hovercraft service, and in fact made the return journey there and back yesterday. But he takes the conventional ferry, which takes him to the right part of the island, and also connects better with the trains back up here. Japan lost its last hovercraft in 2009, so it's fair enough that we had the discussion over the status of hovercraft pilots in this thread.

The number of languages where the word for "eel" is a related the Latin "anguillis" is remarkable, too. Albanian and Arabic both seem to have their words matching it, and apparently Estonian and Dutch. The Slav languages have their own, which is reasonable, given how much eels are eaten in Russia.
posted by ambrosen at 12:44 PM on April 10, 2016


> From listening, I'd guess aingirez is eels

Yup, I happen to have a Basque dictionary, and the word for 'eel' is aingira. (Stupid dictionary doesn't have 'hovercraft.')
posted by languagehat at 1:30 PM on April 10, 2016


hey don't even have two of the languages I speak (Urdu and Punjabi)

Punjabi's there! A little disappointed that they went with a transliteration of "hovercraft" rather than attempt a hilarious equivalent construction like they did for Hindi.
posted by vanar sena at 1:51 PM on April 10, 2016


Proto-Indo-European *snort*
posted by bluebelle at 9:22 PM on April 10, 2016


A number of years ago I found myself in the totally enviable position of being able to say "Aieee! The Squid! She no longer responds to mind control" in Welsh. As you can imagine this made me the cornerstone of any social gathering and not at all a pariah. In this day of instant Google translate this trick is of course entirely useless as an icebreaker and thus I have been forced to develop alternate stratagems. The future is shit.
posted by longbaugh at 3:45 AM on April 11, 2016 [5 favorites]


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