Specifically, what is this site? What is it doing?
In 2018 this blog post wrote about a strange phenomenon on Google Translate: it recognises strings of vowels and spaces as Hawaiian, and translates them to English (or any other language) accordingly. It appears that this is because when translating Hawaiian into another language, Google strips away the consonants first.
The results are strange:
eoiaau i ueiaieeouiuoeuoeuiooieuoiiuaeioeouauoue u uoo euouiooauoeoueouiei oo oeoeoo aa eaueieoueooeoiao aeiieeuiuiaaaeiooauoiee a i oo oe
On his original blog post, Mark Liberman wrote a simple script to generate random strings of vowels. This site is based on Mark’s idea: it uses a Python script to generate random strings of vowels, send them to Google Translate, and display what Google Translate thinks it says in Hawaiian. The resulting text is an intriguing jumble of ideas.
random strings of vowels⤍Google Translate⤍Hawaiian Wisdom
random strings of vowels
This site exists to play with a quirk of Google’s translation software, generating pseudo-wisdom from random strings of vowels. The title “Hawaiian Wisdom” is in no way meant to offend the people, language, or culture of Hawaii. You can click on any of the “Hawaiian” or “English” text on this site to see the original translation yourself in Google Translate. The translations will, naturally, change over time, and someday, they might just translate as the jibberish that they are…
One interesting side-note is that Google’s interpretation of ‘Hawaiian’ phrases is ever-changing. Clicking on the text within a snippet of wisdom will take you to a Google Translate page where the ‘translation’ can be found – quite often this is different to the content on this site!
This project exists on the internet. You can download the code for this project from GitHub, or generate a new piece of ‘wisdom’ directly in Google Translate by clicking New Hawaiian Wisdom at the top of this page.
An earlier version of this code runs as a bot at @hawaiian_wisdom
The coding here is pretty simple: it generates random strings of vowels, sends them to Google Translate, and saves the result. This is then saved to a long text file, which is parsed to a Hexo site. Occasionally I run the translate code again to generate new phrases.
How Google translates is subject to speculation. See the Language Log blog for more ideas.
I stumbled across Mark Liberman’s blog post earlier this year and was intrigued by the strangely poetic, disjointed voice the mis-translations had. I wanted to use them in auto-generative poetry.