Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Found in translation

It's been a cold, wet week. My spirits haven't been at their highest; my energy level has taken a hit. But life got a little brighter when a friend pointed out that you can change Facebook's settings to communicate with you in "English (Pirate)."

Not everyone appreciates the delightful practice of sprinkling one's discourse with "scurvy dogs," "keelhaul the landlubber," and "by Davy Jones' locker." But someone at Facebook certainly does. Switch your language to piratical and your posts become your scribblin's, events become grog fests, and the help command becomes "Mayday!"

The transformation is disturbingly thorough. Instead of viewing pictures of yourself contributed by others, you "spy me bewitched portraits." I'm not married to Noel Murray, I'm anchored to him. Status updates are timestamped "12 shots of rum ago" or "'bout 5 turns o' t' hourglass ago" (and in my case, they're "fired from" And instead of liking a posted item, you click "Arrr, this be pleasin' to me eye."

Best of all, the e-mails you get from "Ye olde Facebook" don't alert you to friend requests or comments on your status updates; they convey demands for you to be mateys and ask that you confirm that ye sailed with the potential hearty, and let you know that somebody flapped their gums about one o' your recent tales.

Even more than the inventiveness and comprehensiveness of the translation, I meditate on the creative labor involved. Somebody, or a few somebodies, channeled a heck of a lot of pirate in programming the makeover. It warms my cockles that such transcendently useless labor still has a place. Although I suppose it's not surprising that the place is Facebook.

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