I was spending some time surfing the net looking at international Tolkien fan clubs, trying to find more publications that are missing from the Guide (hint, hint, if you publish, have, or know of publications that I am missing, please let me know!) and I discovered that BabelFish translates Middle-earth from Spanish as Average Earth. Not an apt description at all!

What is BabelFish? I guess, to start at the beginning... Douglas Adams invented the Babel fish in his Hitchhiker's Guide series of books. It is a small fish that you stick into your ear. Through the magic of science fiction, it causes your brain to understand pretty much any spoken language as your own, so it acts handily as a universal translator. Coming back to our world, some intrepid programmers took the idea and ran with it, and came up with a website engine that will translate blocks of text (including whole web pages) from one language to another. You can find it at http://babelfish.altavista.com or, in my case, I have a button on my Yahoo Toolbar installed, so I see a little golden fish - when I click on that fish, I automatically get an Enlgish version of whatever web page I am currently looking at. It is certainly not perfect - it gives up often on pages that it really can translate, if the author did not set the language tag in the HTML header. It also is rather literal ("Average Earth" is a simple example), so I tend to go back and read the original language with the English hints provided by BabelFish, to get a clearer understanding of the author's intent.

I have included blocks of text in the original languages when possible in TCG (for example, see the MERP section for international translations) - I am already seeing google hits on those pages, so I hope they are providing a (very small) smidgen of help to someone out there. It is possible for TCG to be multilingual, so that users can set a language preference and see the whole site in their own language. Nothing automatic about this feature, someone has to manually translate every page into every language the site would want to support! (I wouldn't want to foist off on anyone a BabelFish version of TCG pages...) But, if the site continues to develop into a useful resource, international sections are something I want to support, if I can recruit multi-lingual authors to do some effective translating.