Playing “Telephone” with Google Translate

Playing “Telephone” with Google Translate

Rebecca Rakowitz, Staff Writer

This past Wednesday I was marveling in the wonder that is “Wednesday.” Unfortunately, besides being able to impersonate a camel, there is nothing really exciting about Wednesdays. So as I trudged over the hump, I decided to spend some time with one of my closest friends: the internet.

Now, I’m not very proud of this next part, but I somehow ended up skimming the Stamford High website…and guess what, not only does this website exist outside the doors of Stamford High, but there’s stuff there! Like all sorts of stuff! I ended up finding the school dress code, and boy was that funny! But worry not, dear reader, I found a way to make it even funnier!

If you are not as good friends with the internet as I am, you may not know that if you put things through a bagillion (or four) languages of google translate, and then bring it back to English, it’s positively hilar-moose (a term coined by The Round Table’s Sam Berkrot – it means hilarious but incorporates one of the most beloved of woodland creatures).

So here’s the path I took.

  1. I started in English since it is the world’s most widely used language (and the language of our school website –maybe there’s a correlation).

  2. Next was Yiddish because everything is better in in a High German language with an admixture of vocabulary from Hebrew and the Slavic languages, written in Hebrew letters, and spoken mainly by Jews in eastern and central Europe and by Jewish emigrants from these regions and their descendants.

  3. Somali because of my pirate fetish.

  4. Azerbaijani because it is the only language whose nation’s wrestling team’s smell has been deodorized by the outstanding effects of Febreeze.

  5. Javanese because sometimes “Japanese” is spelt with a “v.”

  6. Khmer because consonants rule!

  7. Irish because even multi-billion dollar companies screw up sometimes! (“Irish” isn’t a language. It’s a character flaw. JUST KIDDING! WE AT THE ROUND TABLE LOVE AND ACCEPT PEOPLE FROM ALL BACKGROUNDS! YAY POTATOES! But seriously, Google, it’s “Gaelic,” not “Irish.”)

  8. Indonesian because when is it not an appropriate time to pay tribute to the language of the world’s largest archipelagic state?

  9. Telugu because if you cover your mouth with your hand and say it really slowly it sounds like “aardvark.”

  10. Punjabi because I happen to be a fan of Punjab’s national bird, the majestic Northern Goshawk.

  11. Icelandic because all this translating is getting heated and it’s time to cool off.

  12. Hmong because consonants still rule!

  13. Swedish because I love Sweden. It’s the breeding ground for soft and chewy fish-shaped candies!

  14. Maltese because dogs have languages too. Don’t discriminate. #woof #wholetthedogsout #googletranslatedid

  15. Zulu because it is the official language of Lulu Lemon lovers who prefer the letter “z”! #zuluzucchini

  16. Tamil because I think there is someone in one of my classes named Tamil. Or maybe I’m thinking of Timon from The Lion King. Have you ever noticed how Timon and Pumbaa don’t have last names? That’s kind of sad. How do people send them letters?

And last but not least (drum roll please…..)

  1. BACK TO ENGLISH! So that 1.8 billion people all over the world can understand the translation below! (Or so the one person who is going to read this can understand it. Thanks Mom.)

And so now, I will present to you our boring original dress code:


Stamford High School enforces the Dressing and Grooming Policy Number 5147 of The Board of Education and encourages students to dress in a manner that reflects pride in and respect for themselves, their school, and their community. To promote a positive, safe and non-disruptive learning environment, proper attire should be worn. Therefore, the following are some of the items prohibited from being worn in the Stamford Public Schools during the academic school day:


  1. Attire or accessories that portray disruptive, obscene writing or pictures

  2. Attire or accessories that depict logos or emblems that encourage the use of drugs, tobacco products, or alcoholic beverages

  3. Shirts and/or blouses that reveal the abdomen, chest, breasts, or undergarments

  4. See-through clothing

  5. Shorts, miniskirts, or pants that reveal the upper thigh or undergarments

  6. Other attire or accessories that, in the opinion of the principal, are not in good taste or depict vulgar, illegal, racial, or sexist viewpoints

  7. Head coverings of any kind, including, but not limited to scarves, bandanas, masks, kerchiefs, athletic headbands, hoods, etc., except those worn for bonafide religious reasons

  8. Footwear that damages floors or is a safety hazard

  9. Sunglasses (unless required by a doctor’s order)

  10. “Name” or other oversized metal belt buckles

  11. Studded bracelets, oversized or multi-finger rings, belts or any other article of attire with spikes or studs attached



Now let’s take a look at the way better (translated) version of our dress code!

Stamford Board of Education Policy 5147 T-shirts and school and college, respect, experiences, and show support for the program works as a file. In fact, safety, environmental, and not the United Nations. Stamford school students are not allowed to apply during the day:


  1. shows a range of parts, or animation or a clock

  2. car or drugs, the use of smoke, drink alcohol, or want to use, share

  3. shirts and / or diarrhea, or breast Shirts

  4. – See Through Clothes

  5. pants or a mini skirt or shorts will appear in porn

      Or work clothes or 6 support, ethnicity or illegal

  1. head, bandana, your faith, being a kertshyefs sakariza access, and. The player does not have data Bounafeyd duubabna

      Loss of 8 shoes

      9.     cups (required)

      10.  “Name” band 10 file, but qadhabida

      11. finger multi – ring, or use naikalesa ears of corn or other FKK when a series of numbers


And now, my scholarly analysis of the “new dress code”

How did the UN get involved? Is our attire really a matter of global security and prosperity?


  2. …that’s not how sentences work.

  3. Shirts and/or an intestinal disorder characterized   by abnormal frequency and fluidity of fecal evacuations.

  4. How did the letters become capitalized? Interesting how this one is the closest to its original and it is number four. Four minus one is three. Illuminati.

  5. I mean, maybe…

  6. What?

  7. I’m not going to bother clarifying or adding to something that speaks for itself.

  8. My deepest condolences to anyone who has ever lost 8 shoes.

  9. Please  note that I tried several different combinations of languages and this also came out as “Lentils (GPS required)” and “Glass (Doctor, if necessary).”

  10. Don’t worry! You may not be able to “‘name’ band 10 file,” but its all ok, because “qadhabida!”

  11. Lol corn.


Moral of the story: Google Translate is about as accurate at translating languages as John Travolta is at pronouncing names.