Monday, September 19, 2011

So, What About “English-To-Pirate” Machine Translation?

Today is September 19th and therefore, as everybody on this little green Earth knows, it’s “International Talk Like A Pirate Day” once again.

Since I spent part of last Saturday in Williamstown, MA, lecturing about online German genealogy research and explaining the good, the bad and the ugly of online German-to-English/ English-to-German online machine translators, I thought it would be interesting to see if there were any English-to-Piratish translators out there.

Aaargh and shiver me timbers! The number of translators is (a)vast! See for yourself by Googling “pirate translator.”  You’ll be amazed at what you find.

So, one by one, I tried them -  many of ‘em  - out.  (Not all of 'em, mind you; just "many of 'em.")

How did it work, you ask?

Simple and fine.  I took the first paragraph of last year’s “Pirate Day” post and plugged it into the translator, taking it for a test drive.

The results were “interesting.”  I decided that I was kinda partial to the one available at  It was, well, a bit more colourful than many of the others, and, by the way, it will also translate websites.  

Of course, your mileage may vary, so test-drive several of the ones you find.

Here’s what I fed to the above-mentioned translator:

Thus, it seems like an appropriate occasion to recount the story of Granddaughter and Grandson’s 5th great-grandfather and his encounter with guys who talked liked pirates all the time – because they were.  The kind of “piratish” they spoke was a dialect of Chinese, as spoken on the islands in the China Sea that the Portuguese called the Ladrones. Here’s the story:

And here’s the translation result (without any corrective editing by me) that popped out:

Thus, "Parrot Strangling Slops Barrel!" it seems like an appropriate occasion t' recount th' story o' Granddaughter an' Grandson’s 5th great-grandfather an' his encounter wi' guys who talked liked pirates all th' time – cause they were. Th' "Up The Jolly Roger With Ye!" blunderbustingly kind o' “piratish” they spoke be a dialect o' Chinese, as spoken on th' islands in th' China Sea that th' Portuguese called th' Ladrones. Here’s "Batten Down The Hatches!" th' story:

Now, if you want to read more of the true story of Cape Cod China trader William Sturgis and his adventures with real pirates off the coast of China in 1809, here’s the link to last year’s story:


  1. Interesting........... This English-To-Pirate” Machine Translation is very good and I will try it. thanks

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