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the alphabet never sounded more beautiful
January 15, 2008 8:26 AM   Subscribe

Type a word to translate into birdsong.

Credits with the graphic designer's, Jason Gaylor's, free photoshop brushes.

Bonus links, Nightingale's bookmarks:
Translate into R2D2 language
Learn things about the day you were born
Scry, the crystal ball
Send a singing telegram with a duck
Sci-Fi sounds to download
The kakophone
posted by nickyskye (32 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
The R2D2 translator is cool, but in my Firefox on XP the nightingale page is all messed up.
posted by OmieWise at 8:33 AM on January 15, 2008


I can't even load the nightingale page. Nor the duck thing.
posted by DU at 8:35 AM on January 15, 2008


I started to play around with this and suddenly realized that this would be an incredible covert communications device. Strategically placed loudspeakers emit birdsongs, which, when digitally decoded, reveal the message for the intended recipient. Nobody would ever be wise to it, since it just sounds like regular bird-chatter to everyone else.

Also, the googleAd on the bottom of the page is for a "Free Avian Sexing Kit". Furries are everywhereeeeeeeee!
posted by Avenger at 8:37 AM on January 15, 2008


Avenger: Heh, I don't think that ad means what you think it means.

I'm wondering about how the birdsong encoding works, actually. There doesn't seem to be any sort of one-to-one correspondence between letters and bird chirps, but words seem to code uniquely into birdsong, and changing one letter in the word (usually) only changes one part of the song. My best guess is that there are several chirps for each letter, and different occurrences of the same letter in one word receive different chirps. Very cool, in any case.
posted by pmdboi at 8:53 AM on January 15, 2008


The nightingale page won't load for me, in either Firefox or IE, on my work machine (Windows).

Oh - but it loads fine on my powerbook. Huh.

Nobody would ever be wise to it, since it just sounds like regular bird-chatter to everyone else.

Unless there happened to be some bird nerds around, who would then take note of the nightingale's song, realize that nightingales are not native to that region, and immediately get on the phone/internet to inform every other bird nerd in the area that a vagrant nightingale has been spotted (well, heard) and the area wouldsuddenly be flooded with people with binoculars and field guides. You don't want that - trust me!

My name translated into nightingale is quite nice!
posted by rtha at 9:09 AM on January 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


I was really hoping that the translations for "nightingale", "self" and "me" would be the same, but then I typed in zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz and almost had a seizure.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 9:15 AM on January 15, 2008


pmdboi, There is a one-to-one correspondence between letters and bird chirps. It may change somewhat though when one letter is next to another, or when a letter repeats. The letter j on its own is lovely or when used in the word jazz for example but the sound for j is different when put together as aj. Whatever, just fun. The alphabet is lovely. I once had a whistling thrush outside my window that sounded a lot like that. Bliss.
posted by nickyskye at 9:29 AM on January 15, 2008


Jeez, R2, why are you cussing so much?

The bird chirp translator and kakophone are TOO COOL. I could spend hours there.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:36 AM on January 15, 2008


Apparently my dog doesn't speak bird. I was asking her in birdsong if she had to go outside, and she just ignored me.
posted by miss lynnster at 9:56 AM on January 15, 2008


It's working for me. Thanks nickyskye!

My recommended word is antidisestablishmentarianism.
posted by tiny crocodile at 9:57 AM on January 15, 2008


From playing around with it a bit, I think there are just three sounds corresponding to each letter, chosen based not on what letters each sits next to, but rather simply whether the letter is at the beginning, end, or somewhere in the middle of your word. Still neat, I think.
posted by nobody at 10:18 AM on January 15, 2008


My recommended word is antidisestablishmentarianism.

Then I think I'd have to suggest Pseudopseudohypoparathyroidism.

posted by nobody at 10:25 AM on January 15, 2008


Apparently my dog doesn't speak bird. I was asking her in birdsong if she had to go outside, and she just ignored me.

The first thing I typed in was my dog's name, Soda Pop, and she didn't even wake up when it played. Someone needs to try this on their cat.
posted by oneirodynia at 10:32 AM on January 15, 2008


Someone needs to try this on their cat.

How can you translate opening up a bag of food?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:36 AM on January 15, 2008


My cat is very, very interested in the translation of her name.
posted by Soliloquy at 11:06 AM on January 15, 2008


This is fun!
posted by caddis at 11:08 AM on January 15, 2008


How can you translate opening up a bag of food?

I AM MEOW MIX, HEAR ME ROAR
posted by oneirodynia at 11:15 AM on January 15, 2008


Very pretty!

My cats are perplexed by this. They keep looking up at the ceiling when I play the birdsongs. But I guess that's where birds usually are--up high.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 12:29 PM on January 15, 2008


If you type in "so it goes," the first part of the translation sounds a little like "poo-tee-weet."
posted by donpedro at 1:28 PM on January 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


Floccinaucinihilipilification? (Not something I just engaged in, just a word to translate. A popular Mefi pastime.)
posted by snarfodox at 3:42 PM on January 15, 2008


donpedro: haven't picked up that book for years, I think I will tonight, thanks.
posted by snarfodox at 3:49 PM on January 15, 2008


Charming site. The audio quality is very good. I love bird calls. I am happy.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:55 PM on January 15, 2008


Great, now all the nightingales in the neighborhood are giving me dirty looks.
posted by Smedleyman at 4:46 PM on January 15, 2008


@snarfodox: Floccinaucinihiliplification? You just made my day. I actually bickered with my 11th grade English teacher over whether "antidisestablishmentarianism" was actually the longest (nontechnical) word in the English language. Antidisestablishmentarianism has 28 characters; floccinaucinihilipilification, 29. Trifling, I know, but quite amusing at the time!
posted by krash2fast at 6:18 PM on January 15, 2008


What a lovely little toy!

tiny crocodile: My recommended word is antidisestablishmentarianism.

That was the very first word I tried!
posted by Kattullus at 6:28 PM on January 15, 2008


The cat sitting next to me is thoroughly unconcerned, even when the nightingale sang her name.

It's a lovely website - thank you.
posted by gingerbeer at 9:23 PM on January 15, 2008


nickyskye = Awesome links
posted by hadjiboy at 1:20 AM on January 16, 2008


Krash2fast: Yes, but floccinaucinihilipillification is a coined word. Antidisestablishmentarianism appears to be the longest non-technical, non-coined word.
But it all sounds good in nightingale.
posted by tiny crocodile at 7:38 AM on January 17, 2008


This is terrific.

My phone rings to nightingale song now. Makes me happy every time it rings now. A vast improvement. Thanks.
posted by From Bklyn at 2:41 AM on January 18, 2008


What does your nightingale say, From Bklyn?
posted by Kattullus at 6:21 AM on January 18, 2008


Well -

I first tried out "fucking phone's ringing." Then, "phone's ringing asshole," also "fuck fuck fuck" and "shit fuck shit" and liked all of them a lot. Conceptually, I also really liked that the obscenity would be perfectly obscure - perfectly - and it would only sound pleasing and plangent and a bunch of other positive-denoting adjectives. There was something perfectly profane about that which I found pretty damn seductive.

(Repetitive letter combinations or alternative letters also sounded nice. So I considered translating some ee cummins, line by line, and seeing how that sounded but, honestly, I'm not that ambitious and I was not sold the result would be any kind of discernible improvement or augmentation of the original.)

Around the time I was thinking about ee cummins my beloved walked in and I showed it to her. After the novelty had eclipsed, and with her involvement I, naturally, ended up having it sing " -X- loves -Y-" where X is me and Y is her. 'Cause, you know, she's my girlfriend (actually, she's my wife too) and I like her and it made her smile.

so, uh, how 'bout you?
posted by From Bklyn at 8:18 AM on January 18, 2008


Well, I have a hard time enough noticing that my phone is ringing when it sounds like a phone, so I'm not sure getting it to ring nightingale would improve on that. However, the idea of having a ringtone where a nightingale sings encrypted e. e. cummings* might be too cool not to do. I'll have to think about that, certainly.


*I know Estlin and the whole Cummings family wanted his name written with capitalized initials but I just like the all-lowercase way better.
posted by Kattullus at 10:53 AM on January 18, 2008


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