Whether you call it the Telephone Game or Chinese Whispers, it has to be one of the favorite games that we played as kids. The thrill of hearing a completely different phrase than the original one made the game so much fun. Pamela Fox has taken this popular game to an automated online version using the Google Translate API and created a social experience that is bound to keep you trying some phrases just for the hilarious output produced at times.
The Translation Telephone mashup takes the original phrases through 20 random languages and then back to the original language. One would expect that the final phrase matches with the original one, but the results are at times completely unexpected. Using the mashup is simple. Simply input a message and click Go. Scroll down to the bottom to see what your original phrase ended up as. The nice thing about the mashup is its social experience. It shows a list of Recent and Popular messages and a bit of personalization too with your own messages (it uses HTML5 Local Storage to store your messages). There is even a Chrome Extension for the application.
The Translation Telephone mashup, while being fun to use is also a good reminder of how things could go wrong if the APIs are not used in the right context. Especially in the world of language, it is definitely not a 100% thing. We have covered services like the MyGengo API, which provides a human translation service that uses a workforce to provide a quality translation. The results of Translation Telephone do indicate that such services are essential when it comes to getting the translation right. Who knows, the tool may also serve as a litmus test for Google to improve its own automated translation service.