12.17.2004

Phrase-lator: Perfect metaphor for America vs. World

Many of you have probably heard that American soldiers are walking around Iraq with a little device that spits out automatic Arabic translations whenever certain English phrases are said by its user. But I just learned that it only works one way:

Its creators at the Pentagon-financed company VoxTec admit that even the new model, the P2, has a drawback: it is still just a ''one-way'' translation device. In other words, it phraselates perfectly well from English into Arabic (or any of the 59 other ''target languages'' it has mastered so far), but the device is no better at understanding foreign languages than the Americans who are wielding it. So the Phraselator allows occupiers to issue commands, but it does not help them comprehend any of what the occupied may have to say in response. (New York Times)

Isn't that just fitting?