Suffering through a mandatory language class in high school is just slightly below “getting gall bladder sucked out through bellybutton” on a scale of horrid torture. Multi-language dictionaries are aggravating to sift through, sentences ramble on and on, and when all is said and done, you feel like you’re a baboon staring at the Rosetta Stone. Therefore, to alleviate the pain of translating mindless sentences from one language to the next, Altavista offers a shining beacon of god-sent translating goodness. Its name is Babelfish.

Taken from a segment in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy where a small fish called a Babelfish can lodge itself in your ear canal and enable you to understand all languages, Altavista’s Babelfish can do wonders. Simply type whatever text you want translated, choose the appropriate translation method — it interprets English to French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, German, all of them the other way, and then some intermingling — and voila! The Babelfish will translate it to the best of its confident abilities. Sure, it isn’t perfect, and sometimes it’ll mix up a word or two, but the mere existence of such a service should make students of foreign languages want to make sweet, sweet love to their computers. The Babelfish also has the ability to translate entire Web pages by simply typing in the URL! It truly is a beautiful thing. Or, in French, C’est vraiment une belle chose.

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