Polyglottal Telephone

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Polyglottal Telephone is a co-operative game involving translation. The players are organised into an order, and the first player chooses or writes a text and sends it to the next player. He or she then has to translate it into another language and pass it on, and so forth; the order is chosen so that each player always knows a language in common with the next player, and so that the chain ends with the text back in the original language.

The game's name derives from Telephone, an alternative name of the game sometimes called Chinese Whispers.

The game is a regular feature of the Languages and Linguistics forum on the ZBB.



The first Polyglottal Telephone was suggested by civman2000 in March 2004. Because of some confusion as to how to the thing was meant to work, the initial attempt was abortive (despite Shinali Sishi's efforts at keeping the thread alive), and Echobeats took charge of reorganising it. Ahribar (now Nuntar) provided an initial text from his in-progress novel The Adventures of Athribar. The game ran from 22 April to 7 June.

In July, Twpsyn Pentref suggested a repeat of the game, and found himself in charge of putting together the order, with Radius Solis providing the original text (from Terry Pratchett's Wyrd Sisters). The game ran from 26 July to 1 November; because several people took a long time over their translations or even forgot they were participating, the organisers ended up having to impose deadlines (after which a participant could be skipped) to get the Telephone finished.

Space Dracula started a thread for volunteers for the third Polyglottal Telephone even before the second was finished, and Ahribar took charge of putting together the order. So many people signed up that it was decided to split the Telephone into two teams, with the same initial text going to both teams, so that extra amusement would be provided by seeing how much the final versions diverged. After the experience of the second Telephone, it was decided to add a 7-day deadline for translations to the rules from the outset, which worked well. The game ran from 3 November to 9 January 2005, with an initial text from an article in The Heuristic Squelch contributed by alephnaught, and ended with a last-gasp victory for Team Alpha, who had been behind for most of the game.

The fourth Polyglottal Telephone, organised by Phasmo (now called Coelacanth) with a starting text written by Gulli (incorporating a riddle from this site), and again divided into two teams, started on 20 January 2005 and ran to 24 April, ending with a very narrow victory by Team Alpha after Team Beta fought back to return from eight links behind at one stage to just one. The same 7-day rule was followed, but unfortunately less often adhered to, prompting a suggestion to reduce the deadline further.

The fifth Telephone was organised by brandrinn with a starting text written by Twpsyn Pentref. The deadline was reduced to five days, and the game ran from 14 May 2005 to 7 August, with Team Beta finishing first, although they had fewer people. This Telephone was notable for a sequence of three conlang links in Team Alpha (Verdurian, Arêndron and kardii), which completely messed up the text – especially as the setting was futuristic and all three conlangs are designed for pre-modern conworlds. (Not to mention the fact that kardii is written without word spaces, and when the text had already been made pretty nonsensical, there were very few contextual clues to enable Nortala to work out where the breaks should go.) A rule was added that participants who were not translating into English should write an English text as well, to make it easier to compare the results at the end.

A year's hiatus intervened before Nuntar revived the game for the sixth telephone, which ran from 23 October 2006 to 14 December. The teams were close throughout, but Delalyra just pulled ahead at the finish to win for Team Beta. Nuntar chose the starting text, which was (again) from The Adventures of Athribar.

The seventh game was started on 16 May 2007 and ran to 3 July; Team Alpha won narrowly, although they had been a long way in front earlier in the game. Nuntar was again the organiser, and MUBA took the starting text from his own writings on his conworld.

The eighth polyglottal telephone was organized by Eccentric Iconoclast, but for reasons yet little understood the results were never posted here.

Peacekeeper re-revived the game by starting the ninth telephone, which ran from 30th January to 20th April 2009. The original text (from Frank Herbert's Dune) was thought to be too long, so at Åge Kruger's suggestion, it was split into two parts - the first was translated by Team Alpha, and the second by Team Beta. Team Alpha were the winners, finishing five days early; their opponents were slowed down when Tarasoriku's Akkadian translation proved to be a dead end.

The tenth round was scheduled by Qwynegold to run from 24th August to 8th October 2009. Both teams finished on 27th September, Team B narrowly beating their opponents. Awards were as follows:

  • The speed award goes to team B!
  • The shortening award goes to team A...
  • The most true to the original award goes to team A!
  • The hilarious award goes to team B!

The eleventh PGT was organised by Finlay after over a year's hiatus, and ran from 12th December 2010 to 16th January 2011. Team A started by racing through, completing each link in the chain in often only a few hours, while Team B took a more leisurely pace. A lull over Christmas and New Year when people forgot about it for a week or two meant that Team B was able to steal the lead at the eleventh hour and very narrowly beat Team A.

The twelfth iteration was organized by Serafín, immediately after the eleventh PGT was done. The game moved at a notable average speed of 2.1 (Team A) and 2.3 (Team B) days per person, running from February 3rd to March 7th, 2011. Originally involving a protagonist grossed out at elfic anatomy, the character in question later changed to a goblin, an imp, a monster, a demon, a devil, and a devil-child.

The thirteenth running was organized by Lyhoko Leaci, again immediately after the previous iteration was done. The starting text was also chosen by Lyhoko Leaci from his in-progress novel, working title Myon: Invasion. It started off at a very rapid pace, with people taking just a day to complete the text, if that, but then both teams came to a screeching halt about a third of the way through before finally starting back up again. Due to the massive mid-term delay, both teams finished behind schedule, despite the increased deadlines. It ran from March 25th to May 28th.

The fourteenth running was organized by Finlay, with a text chosen by Faiuwle. It overran, though, possibly due to an overly long text.

The fifteenth running was again organized by Lyhoko Leaci, immediately after the previous iteration finally completed. The starting text was again chosen by Lyhoko Leaci from his in-progress novel, working title Myon: Invasion, to be a short two sentence text to contrast with the overly long previous text. Even though it was shorter, it still had plenty of oddities spring up.

The sixteenth running was organized by Serafín by the end of April 2012, finishing by the end of June.

The results

Polyglottal Telephone I

Initial text

I grew up in the city of Zblatr with my parents and my sister Ruby, and never had any adventures until I was nine. It so happened that one day we went into the country, to a quiet spot we knew by the River Nlobo, for a picnic. It was a gorgeous and tranquil place, where the purple rose-bushes grew and the winged horses frolicked in the purple rain. We sat down by the riverbank and shared our sandwiches, and very nice they were too, although the peanut butter made my hands rather green; and then my sister, who was young and liked to play around, clambered onto a rock in the middle of the river. As quick as semolina, the rock got up and floated away with her! You see, it was really the shell of a tortoise that had been slumbering in the mud. Ruby was only seven at the time, so the mistake was quite understandable.

Final text

When I was young, I came from Zibolatre with my sister Lubia and my parents. I was nine years old, and I had not seen what others had seen many times. One time we came by a church. We took a rest and ate at Enluobo (a secret place). It was truly an imposingly beautiful place; we marvelled at the beautiful flowers there and at the blue of the sea, which was due to the rain. We came from afar, near Ufer, and brought meat with us for to eat. It was not bad meat, but it bothered the art, for we had to inflict wounds upon a small intelligent craftsman. As we finished, my sister started running, passing over the wet sand and the pieces of wood gathered on the shore. It is indeed the correct verdict that a strong current took Lubia with it. Because of a snail's shell did she get stuck in the pieces of wood. Lubia was at most eight years old; that is why we discussed her miserable fate.

Polyglottal Telephone II

Initial text

Thunder rolled back and forth across the dark, rain-lashed hills as the hoofbeats neared, slowed. The rider leapt down and dashed toward the witch, carrying a large bundle. He almost reached her before he stopped, staring in horror. A lightning flash allowed Granny Weatherwax to look directly into the man's eyes; he was no longer looking at anything in this world. With a final jerk he thrust the bundle into Granny's arms and toppled forward, the feathers of a crossbow bolt sticking out of his back.

Granny twitched aside the blanket in her arms and looked down at a small face, wrapped in sleep.

A soldier stepped into the firelight and tossed his crossbow aside. "You will give it to me," he said.

"No," she said, on general principles.

The soldier glanced around her. "You are a witch?" he said.

Granny nodded.

"Your peasant magic is for fools, mother of the night. I could strike you down where you stand."

"Then strike, man," said Granny. "Strike as hard as you dare."

The man raised his sword. Lightning stabbed down again and split a stone a few yards away. "Missed," he said smugly. Then a look of extreme puzzlement crossed his face. His sword dropped out of his hand and landed point downward in the peat. Then he gave a sigh and folded up, very gently, collapsing in a heap at Granny's feet.

"Perhaps you weren't aware of what I was aiming at," she whispered. "Mother of the night, indeed."

Final text

An incredible thunder echoed in the rain above the wet ground, and I heard riders arrive, and then it was quiet.

The rider, who at the departure was in another magic time, and who carried a kettle filled with meat, jumped. A flash manned shadows in his face. He was Sufe Lurelissorono. Sufe saw human eyes, but he saw Balorana go away.

He took the kettle and put it to the ground there close. Nails fell from the roof.

Sufe saw the southern wind with a flag on his hand. He saw a small bishop's chair.

Alone saw an altar. It looked strange from the earth.

"Did you give it to me?" he asked.

"No", answered Sufe.

"Do you know..." Alone started his sentence..

"You have a wonderful talent for moving your mouth, Cadaciano. It is done."

"We carried. Aim your litany towards my bony daughter, your talent will be seen there", said Sufe.

The man complimented one more sword. Noisy made a summary, but a tight beam of starlight made noise.

"Put some spokes in his wheel" I said.

The sword fell from his hands. And then his body feared the ground.

Polyglottal Telephone III

Initial text

Man Wasting His Life By Enjoying It

Sources close to Berkeley resident Daniel Arnette report that the 24-year-old percussionist and freelance graphic designer is throwing his life away by habitually seeking happiness and fulfillment from his waking hours.

"Just last week, Daniel was telling me that he had spent the day holed up in his apartment, watching cartoons, eating potato chips, and practicing on his bongos," said Arnette's mother, Helen. "I can't tell you how it breaks my heart to see him enjoying himself like that."

Steve Hewitt, Arnette's roommate and a sufferer of chronic fatigue syndrome, agreed. "No two ways about it: Dan's in serious trouble here. If he doesn't get it together soon, he's going to wake up one morning and realize that he's squandered the best years of his life having a good time."

Final text (Team Alpha)

Daniel Arnott Berkely was blue as a rat one morning. He wanted to taste like one. He was twenty-four years old when he became an anarchist.

He saw many photographs, and often said, "I live in that beautiful vain land." His mother said, "I am also a close friend of him in sickness. I might have eaten food and also oil, because we still see young people without clothes in movies."

We don't want to see a movie. Arnott gave it us after he saw it, but it seemed to excite him greatly. He was always greatly excited.

They rejected living on that island, Huitt Steep, through privilege. "Don't think about it: let us be sick of it always." He woke on the first day and lived through many new years.

Final text (Team Beta)

Even dead he is beloved. History told us, that Daniel Arnett, a drummer, that was freed from his fight with barely twenty-three years, sought fame and adventure in Berkeley.

It was in the direst moment of his disease, when he said, that he could yet try to play the drums, when he was summoned by the estate of his mother – to Ellen.

I was not there then, to raise an objection, and I guessed, that this was the time, when he would die.

Pity him, Stefan Luvitt, that his respiratory disease subsided – I know that he got used to his disease, and nobody attempted once, to cease it – and that was exactly in the day that he completely abandoned hope, that I wanted... that which I never allowed myself.

Polyglottal Telephone IV

Initial text

Alice sat in her rocking chair on the veranda, rocking, as one does in these situations. In her lap was a book of riddles and puzzles, which her mother’s adopted sister’s brother had given her for her fourteenth birthday, thirty-six years ago. It was tattered and well-thumbed, but that didn’t matter. She put on her reading glasses, flicked her greying hair from her face and opened the book at random. It read:

Of no use to one
Yet absolute bliss to two.
The small boy gets it for nothing.
The young man has to lie for it.
The old man has to buy it.
The baby's right,
The lover's privilege,
The hypocrite's mask.
To the young girl, faith;
To the married woman, hope;
To the old maid, charity.

It was one of her favourites. She had solved (usually without cheating) all of the riddles years ago, so it was more of a challenge to her memory than to her cognitive abilities. She knew the answer immediately: a kiss.

Final text (Team Alpha)

Adeline sat on the bus, with a book of darkness, which her mother and brother gave her for her eighth birthday, on her knee. The book was torn, worn, and misshapen, because she read it often. And later, as she moved her hair from her face and donned her glasses, she started to read aloud in a great voice:

“Humanity has no purity at all [note to reader – this is the point at which the text becomes nearly meaningless. If this is the fault of my own inability, I apologize, but I suspect the text made no sense even when it reached Maknas.], they bring a gift for the educated, but scorn to bring a gift for the elderly. The book reveals all! The kingdom of friends, and the cloak of liars, strong girls, hopeful women, and revenge upon goats.”

Darkness was good, and lips immediately confessed.

Final text (Team Beta)

Alice was sitting in the armchair by the door.
She leaned back.
She had a question book that she had recieved on her fourteenth birthday from her grandmother's brother.

She became worried. She patiently browsed through.
She took the book, went outside, and quickly read the exercises from the pages.

– When Alice was alone, it shouldn't be absolutely important.
– And even when it were things for adults, it is absolutely lucky.
– A boy, the adult women must say, that it isn't right.
– The adult men must do good to the past.
– She bore message of a child.
– It will have false items.
– For a child there is reliability.
– A wife is surprised.
– For a Miss there are benefits.

Despite this this woman is happy now. She had answered all the questions correctly; this year the questions were much easier. Nostalgia and convenience discovered. The explanation was a mystical energy.

Polyglottal Telephone V

Initial Text

The interesting beeping lights on the control console of the starship Plingctliobble were beeping a great deal more loudly than usual. "O my!" shrilly shrieked the second-in-command, Auocvomm, who was a small, very excitable man who looked like nothing so much as a hamster with haemorrhoids. "Whatever shall happen to us? Hostile aliens are swiftly approaching from-" his voice deepened dramatically, which was quite an accomplishment for him, whose vocal cords were comparable breadthwise to PrishpleMax Phun-Size HyperKleenex - "-Deep Space." "Never fear!" said the strong, gallant, heroic Captain Himpruse, who was a woman, and had had to work hard to defeat the chauvinist pigs of Its Majesty's Royal Space Navy to get her job. "My baby Plingctliobble hasn't failed me yet. We shall crush them! Ha-ha!" As the deadly aliens approached ever more quickly, things inside Plinctiobble were becoming quite frenzied. People rushed hither and thither calibrating the PrishpleMax Special PhunPack Ion Cannons and the UltraSensors 2300 Only By PrishpleMax! and the PrishpleMax Flechette Detonators Extra Blood-'n-Guts, Guaranteed, Or Your Money Back! But alas! despite the best efforts of the valiant crew of Plinctliobble, the aliens were exceedingly powerful, and blew the starship Plingctliobble into many pieces. And Captain Himpruse's last dying thought was "Hold on? how can lights beep?"

Final Text (Team Alpha)

The house and the cloud by the boat named Purinyoburu.
As for large things a bell announced it's greatness.
With respect for Aawokubo, even seven are fewer than the Paa.
On is little - despite that it was brown and delicately made.
It can burn if it is taken there.

"A sword used against one of our own? Perhaps we are a bad species...", you say grandly.

Thus it became a mouth. A suitable person among the humans will be large and fast.
With a bloody nose it is possible to create purishpuire, quickly in the two, reaching a distance away.
Without fear.
Yes, like a mountain it was the king of the cloud, on a courageous boat called Irukuribeto.
The king's cloud terminated the struggle among the group on the boat.
It was as if those who belonged to the mountain had had the virus, which was fortunate for the proud ones.
Like a boy this person will take care of what we found. I made a mistake.
We cancelled the truth about the fact that everything else creates seiaa.
What was a temporary lightning doing with those people?
It is a disturbance in the Purinyoburu.
In the person before the arrival of the Purinyoburu.
In vain, the four balls are not semi-controlled.
The purishipuarenta it controls was broken with the arrow.
(Be famous and united to the theme concerning other countries, we shall enter the house protecting us from the mosquitoes.)
The repetition of the truth you told among the gathered masses.
The arrival of fear.
By the way, at this very moment a friend of the cloud is dancing good on the male boat Purinyoburu.
The race in which the mountains are very bad broke the Purinyoburu.

Final Text (Team Beta)

Note: the question marks in the names were originally accented characters that were killed off when the ZBB transferred to a new server.

The lights aboard the space-ship Plinctiobailo didn't burn down. "Oh, my God!" said Abhacbh?mo, the assistant. He was tired, exhausted even; and had for a long time suffered from hemorroids. "Who are standing in our way?" If they are extraterrestrials, let them come.." His voice tried to be more extreme, but there was a strong hair in his thundering string. "...out of space."

"Do not be afraid!" said captain Ghibr?sco. "The strict womans space is brave, and it has easily matured to fight your tyrant; the one the women hates for having inherited the throne.

"Son! Don't let Plictliobailon get away! Catch up with them! Ahahahaha!"

The extraterrestrials came threateningly clos, and Plinctliobailon quivered. The crew realised something: they had to go back to prepare the Extreme Experienc 2300 Canon (it only came from Prishelmax; blood and loss had been shared, but the silver was front backwards!). There were to many wounds, and in spite of Plinctliobailons heroic efforts the beings were too strong. The captains last shought: "Look.. why are the lights still on?"

Polyglottal Telephone VI

Initial text

We can never guess how much pain lies ahead, we who are only starting out on the long road. If we could, all of us, even the bravest, would never take that first step out into the world; bravery is nothing more than turning off the torch that lights the way into the unknown. There is a dream we have, a dream of standing on the mountains with the long road behind us, our friends and enemies alike long vanished in the all-consuming mist. And up there by an eroded milestone we scream into the last wind, even though none will ever hear us, that nothing we have suffered can diminish the glory of that moment, and that if we could choose to have the whole of our lives again, step after step, the whole of every day and each long year just as before, we would make the choice gladly for the sake of that triumph. But it is not up there, in that final Rendezvous at the Mountain, that we have to make the choice; and what they really say who reach it we can only know when we arrive.

Final text (Team Alpha)

Firstly, the whole world has given a lot, knowing that they never will know. If they’d know, it’s possible that no matter would exist in the world except for power. And there are the Powers the only way for the brilliant light.

It has been seen in dreams, that what one needs to climb the mountains. For long, what was, has been, by the friend or by the devil, lost in history. Nobody has said that they induced an intelligent man to flee from a peasant.

But, even if he doesn’t understand the greatness of the workers, the respect we have is never useless, and before humanity exists, every moment, every hour, every year, this respect is the total of experience. There is no end of matter, and at this period, humankind needs to decide without delay. And no matter who, this is possible, is afraid to last, should not forget the place from where he has come.

Final text (Team Beta)

When we had started our journey, we'd had no idea that it would end in tragedy. The brave men had for many years travelled the globe, because of the various bad things that made us leave.
Hail these brave men, who met fiery dawn at the first rough light!
When we see them in a dream, can we advance and start our own adventure? You will have all the long journeys before the end of time.
In the haze we will find our friends and enemies.
At this point, our profit towards the valiant signs when we came to the end, easily, nobody fell at that moment.
Again when we held the seen and the sure time and the good year, have we left already, in the case of our limited date nearly becoming never?
When we went against these problems, after we had to know, if everyone got up, did they have to know less what we knew happened?

Polyglottal Telephone VII

Initial text

In the time of the old gods, before the young gods were born, Tabaim did not really have a task. He mostly just walked through the desert and talked to the other gods. However, when the gods created forests and mankind and animals, Tabaim became god of meals. Tabaim is generally considered the most powerful god of the pantheon, or at least the primus inter pares in the pantheon. He's also the head cook of the gods.

There is one festival associated with Tabaim: Tabaim's Day. It is held after the fields are harvested, because this means that there will be food for the next year again. Tabaim's Day takes a full day, and it looks a lot like many of the other religious festivals: there is a lot of food and wine, even older children are allowed to drink, musicians play high-tempo dance music, games are played, feuds are forgotten for a day, and upcoming marriages are announced.

Final text (Team Alpha)

When the honourable gods were alive, they didn't cover up new babies nor did they conceil Tabeym himself. They did it, through mutual communication, Tabeym left. Tabeym, the god of wood and the animals and the fish, had studied as if to hit back at the gods. Some time after, Tabeym made a sacrifice to the gods. Alsua, thanks to the god's power, lit the world's first father. Then there was a marvellous feast day.

Yt was set free to celebrate. The "Day of Tabeym" was to be celebrated from next year, as soon as the harvest of the grain had been gathered. The jubilee continued for several days, and there was mixed paractices of the whole world, freindship, and much wine (the children are allowed to drink wine on the Day of Tabeym), and there was music too. There were plenty of duels, and the duel in which two competitors fight and win over each other was an announcement that they would marry. This was great news.

Final text (Team Beta)

This story is about the age of the ancient gods. Before the young hair, the Tabiem were famous. The garlic was loved. Even more, Tabiem went to the other side of the room. How Musios was to search for Tabiem, he was not sure. Munios, who was tied to the gods, knew what had been done again to much of the people in the forest. They made metal discs in the honor of the gods because people had believed in the gods for many years. They got ready. Tabiem, with his friends, ate the entire dawn. As none went to look for anything, it had eaten to arrange. By chance, somebody called to the victims of the Gods. The young ones had wine, sang, and danced to the pattern of the music, and said that they wanted to marry.

Polyglottal Telephone IX

Details, including intermediate stages, here.

Initial text (Team Alpha)

It was a relief globe of a world, partly in shadows, spinning under the impetus of a fat hand that glittered with rings. The globe sat on a freeform stand at one wall of a windowless room whose other walls presented a patchwork of multicolored scrolls, filmbooks, tapes and reels. Light glowed in the room from golden balls hanging in mobile suspensor fields.

An ellipsoid desk with a top of jade-pink petrified elacca wood stood at the center of the room. Veriform suspensor chairs ringed it, two of them occupied. In one sat a dark-haired youth of about sixteen years, round of face and with sullen eyes. The other held a slender, short man with effeminate face.

Both youth and man stared at the globe and the man half-hidden in shadows spinning it.

A chuckle sounded beside the globe. A basso voice rumbled out of the chuckle: "There it is, Piter -- the biggest mantrap in all history. And the Duke's headed into its jaws. Is it not a magnificent thing that I, the Baron Vladimir Harkonnen, do?"

Final text (Team Alpha)

The globe was in the shadow of a hand. It was a room without windows. In the room were monitors with the various pictures showing. In the middle of the room was a beautiful piece of jewellery, and also a table with all kinds of pictures. At the table were two people sitting. One was about 16 years old. She had black hair and a round face. The other's was pale and soft.

Both were contemplating the globe and the person in the shadow.

Then, they heard a muffled laugh. A serious voice said: "Peter, it is always good to control our house. We will win! I have found a piece of the woman's face. That was done extraordinarily well, Baron Harkonnen.".

Initial text (Team Beta)

"Assuredly, Baron," said the man. His voice came out tenor with a sweet, musical quality.

The fat hand descended onto the globe, stopped the spinning. Now, all eyes in the room could focus on the motionless surface and see that it was the kind of globe made for wealthy collectors or planetary governors of the Empire. It had the stamp of Imperial handicraft about it. Latitude and longitude lines were laid in with hair-fine platinum wire. The polar caps were insets of finest cloud-milk diamonds.

The fat hand moved, tracing details on the surface. "I invite you to observe," the basso voice rumbled. "Observe closely, Piter, and you, too, Feyd-Rautha, my darling: from sixty degrees north to seventy degrees south -- these exquisite ripples. Their coloring: does it not remind you of sweet caramels? And nowhere do you see blue of lakes or rivers or seas. And these lovely polar caps -- so small. Could anyone mistake this place? Arrakis! Truly unique. A superb setting for a unique Victory."

Final text (Team Beta)

The man said happily, “of course, my lord” in a sort, high-pitched voice. He placed his has heavily on the globe. In the room, he fixed his gaze on the war chart. Opposite was the head of the Planetary Union; he was the finest of Kaitsel artisans. The cable was long and straight, and at the end rested a white diamond.

His hand touched the globe once more, his finger pointing to the warzone. “Look,” he said in a loud voice, “if there is a battle high up in the plains, Pedro, there will not be any roads. There are Kebutsi, 60 degrees north, 70 degrees south; the flowers, they’re dark blue, aren’t they? And in the end? Do you see this expanse of land? Araka! The soil’s surface will have a perfect victory.”

Polyglottal Telephone X

Details, including intermediate stages, here.

Initial text

Time passed and the children continued to dance every day. One day, however, a strange old man appeared and ordered them to stop. But they did not obey his instruction and kept on dancing. Then a small boy suggested that next time they met they should bring food from their parents' lodges and enjoy a feast together. But their parents refused their request. Undaunted, the children continued their merry-making - still happy, though hungry. Then one day as they danced, light-headed with hunger, they found themselves rising up into the sky. "Don't look back", their leader warned them. As they floated up, their parents ran out of their lodges laden with food to tempt the children back to Earth. But it was too late. One child who glanced down became a shooting star. The others, when they had ascended became the Pleiades star cluster: a band of happy children dancing through the night.

Final text (Team Alpha)

Once, there were some young boys who were playing and continuing. An old man came to hear them. The children went to their parents and tried to obtain food at a banquet, but their parents denied them any. The boys, forgetting this, played and laughed. Even if they were hungry, they were happy. Soon, swelling with hunger, they boys flew into the sky. The leader said to the boys: "I can see below!" While the boys were flying, their parents were running, trying to find food to bring to them so that they would come back. Then there was a banquet. Those who danced happily throughout the whole night, were made Pleiades.

Final text (Team Beta)

In time, the children danced farther and farther. One day an old man ordered them to stop dancing. The children did not follow his instruction, and they danced on. A boy was snatched into the hut by the elders to be eaten, when the conquerors had been brought together once more for feast and festival. But the elders warded them off. And so the children could keep on dancing even longer. Almost satisfied, but hungry. But just as the hunger had become unbearable, they were suddenly in paradise and they had swum through the sky. "Look down," the guide said, "but not for too long!"

While the children were swimming through the sky, the kinsman hurried to take the food to hand, to bring it to his friend's hut, just as the children's feet touched back down to Earth. Yet they came back too late. After an analysis of the situation, a few children had turned into a meteorite. And other children, high in the sky, had formed a heavenly dance troupe [sic!], that Dungutsa called "the happy troupe [sic!] with children that danced the whole night through".

Polyglottal Telephone XI

Details, including intermediate stages, here.

Initial text

They were walking now past a huge boulder, up which a short flight of steps led to a gilded pavilion. This, Morgan realised, was the very summit of the mountain; he knew what the shrine was supposed to hold, but once again the monk enlightened him.

"The footprint," he said. "The Muslims believed it was Adam's; he stood here after he was expelled from Paradise. The Hindus attributed it to Siva or Saman. But to the Buddhists, of course, it was the imprint of the Enlightened One."

"I notice your use of the past tense," Morgan answered in a carefully neutral voice. "What is the belief now?"

The monk's face showed no emotion as he replied: "The Buddha was a man, like you and me. The impression in the rock—and it is a very hard rock—is two metres long."

-- Arthur C. Clarke, The Fountains of Paradise

Final text (Team A)

One day, opposite a low and golden house, Morgana encountered a large stone, and went up the slope with little steps; on the last step, Morgana knew that she was climbing to the highest ascent. Han knew that she goes to wait in the church, but the priest stayed with the white guy.

"Those that call themselves Muslims think that, while you are sleeping, Adam, after going to the left, went away," he said. "The kingdom of God prohibited him from standing there. Those that call themselves Hindus say that Shiva Samanem, after going to the left, went away; but those that call themselves Buddhists say that the Buddha, after going to the left, went away maliciously," he said.

After pausing, Morgana said, "Good; while you speak of this, past histories in the present, what do you think?"

The face of the priest didn't show anything. Han said, "According to us, the Buddha was human, that after a little while he divided two meters there among the stones."

Final text (Team B)

Today, two men went up on the other side of the rock. All these rocks over there have a stairway behind a gate of gold. Morgan knew that this was the peak. He knew that there was a Shinto shrine on top of it. A saint's shrine, which certainly held some relics inside.

But the monks explained to him, "These are the footprints of a good muslim, Adam. He was thrown out of heaven after staying there. The Hindus say that he talked to Shiva and Shanon. According to the Buddhists, however, these footprints are those of a white man."

"I know the old traditions," Morgan said. "It seems that he said this only to contradict the others. What do you think, today?"

The monk could not hear him, and he replied, "Buddha, like all of us, is a human being. In my opinion, the stone is particularly solid and two meters long."

Teléfono políglota XII

Details, including intermediate stages, here.

Texto inicial

Going to the stream by the house, they quickly disrobed. He surreptitiously watched the elf, curious as to what he looked like without his clothes. He was very thin, yet his muscles were perfectly defined, etched under his skin with the hard lines of a woodcut. No hair grew upon his chest or legs, not even around his groin. His body seemed almost freakish to him, compared to the men he was used to seeing in his hometown--although it had a certain refined elegance to it, like that of a wildcat.

Texto final (Equipo A)

At the building, where the shores of the creek sat, there is a demon-child, whose secretly manner makes him tremble, and that fixed him.

He wondered, why it appeared without clothes. Although the knave seemed slim, the fine picture revealed his curves, and it was even easier to see his body: the chest, the muscles, and the sides were completely hairless.

No. Children are found in cities. The body of the devil seemed more adult, almost obscene, almost like a feral cat.

Texto final (Equipo B)

I followed the naked 2.44 miles along the river as it is. Without knowing the time, I saw the naked demon. The demon was imposingly strong. It had slightly less fur at its legs, stomach and groin. The demon had come from the outside of its house to watch quietly. Everything had changed for the sake of its health. Certainly its posture was better than that of a lynxes.

Polyglottal Telephone XIII

Details, including intermediate stages, here.

Initial Text

"Ah, that must be it. I've overslept, and my girlfriend, with help from my brother, has decided to prank me by dressing me up like her and putting me in her room, just to see what I would do. It wouldn't be that hard considering I still have the wig and other stuff from the last day of school, and there seems to have been plenty of time to do this judging by the current time of day." he said quietly to himself. He then said, "I'm not going to fall for it, you know."

He paused for a bit, looking confused.

"Where are you? I know you're out there."

He looked around for a bit, still confused. He then reached up, grabbed his hair, and pulled, only to be rewarded with a sharp pain in his scalp. He let go of his hair in shock and his hands plopped down, bouncing off of something on his chest.

With a further look of confusion, he grabbed one of the mounds on his chest, and then screamed.


Final Text (Team Time Travel)

How gratifying that life is. When I was falling asleep, my wife was discussing my case with her brother. That woman dresses me while dressing herself, and reassures me that she sees what I do. She was cautious because she already had messy hair, like they had at school. And while she was thinking therefore the man was late, already she had heard it sufficiently yesterday to say what she wanted: the agitator. And so she said, "I haven't bathed you sufficiently in my sweat; now you know why."

I know that she didn't watch over there often; she was very confused.

"Where is she? She definitely isn't here because..?"

Several minutes later, she was watching and still was confused.

Afterwards, she took the hair and combed it, and she felt a great pain in her tangled hair. Terrified, she left her hair to fall, took her things with both hands, and left.

Then, I suddenly was afraid, she took one of her breasts and yelled in a high voice, "HI-YAAAH!"

Final Text (Team World Tour)

Huh, it is so, eh? He said gently. I did not fall asleep but she and her brother wandered near me and gave me chaotic clothes for girls. And then, so that she can see that I actually care about something, has these two for me to my comrade's room and to my own room.

He continued: - But all that is not much. Not few as once where I decided what I would do on the last day of school, that I, for example would use a wig. And from now on I will have much time to plan some things.

The other interrupted: - I did not bring my own along. Do you understand?

He stood up, a bit confused. - And where are we? I see we are outside. And then he saw her. She was confused too. She started to raise her hand, to let her lead in front, and wanted only to make an encouraging clip of confusion. Despite her unrest she forced her hand on her hair. She fell and then raised her chest for the last time. He fell in confusion. As he held a flask to the girl's chest, he shouted, "Aaaaaaah!"

Polyglottal Telephone XIV

Details, including intermediate stages, here.

Initial Text

Tursten hated the crows, always had; he could remember him as a small boy, standing in the yard screaming at them. As he got older he stopped screaming and went quiet, his cold, savage mind devising some better way, and as always he'd found one. He collected twelve birds whose wings he'd managed to break with stones, and pegged them out a dozen yards out from the meadow hedge, their legs tethered to short sticks. At midday, the birds in the trees flew down and pitched next to them, assuming they were the scouts sent out to find safe pasture; Tursten was waiting for them in a hide of freshly-cut hazel, perfectly still, with his forty-pound bow and plenty of lead-nosed blunts. Every bird he stunned, he pegged out, until he had dozens of decoys; and the more decoys he put out, the more birds came to join them. At dusk he went out and killed them all, apart from half a dozen he kept for the next day. After three days the survivors got wise and circled above his head all morning, screaming at him the way he'd screamed at them; he appreciated that. It was the greatest victory ever achieved in the war, but he never managed to repeat it; and two years later, the numbers were back to what they'd always been.

"Your dad was a clever man," he told the child, who was asleep now. That was no lie, he reflected. Tursten could be a vicious little bastard when he wanted to, but he was clever. Probably would've made a good soldier, if he'd hated the enemy like he hated the crows.

Final Text (Team A)

Tolosan hated ravens. She recalled one particular occasion when a raven nearby made a sound. Throughout her childhood, this voice moved very little, slowly being lost, not only as an enemy, but that was all one could need from a raven.

He was ten Nippur ells away from three ravens belonging to a group of twelve. The birds had gathered and stayed, enticed by the seeds in the branches of the trees, when they spread their wings. These three ravens abandoned the tree to fly off and find something funny to eat. Tolosan had a bow and some new arrows, with a sky blue hue. In the still heat he was on the prowl for the birds that remained.

The birds were surprised by the arrows that flew past the tree trunk. She made me cry more than other birds. Coincidentally, more birds from the band gathered to fight. When it was dark, he caught a bird to kill but eight still remained. The following morning only six remained.

On the third day, when he heard the cawing of the birds, he knew that something was wrong. At this moment he realized something important. The big victory is to do the right thing but he could not repeat it now that he had done it for the first time.

A certain youngster said: the father speaks Latin to the wife. That is no lie. If he had heard, rot and cruelty would not have been made. He hated it like he hated his enemy and maybe he could become a good soldier.

Final Text (Team B)

Turstan hated the violence of ravens, and always had, since the days that I was child -- we often agreed on such things. They were always making a fuss, as if perpetually on the terrace. When she was younger she didn't shout, and yet she didn't say anything all the same. Whenever she fell into unbearable rage, she thought of better ideas, but didn't feel as if she really grasped them.

She had twelve birds, their wings broken by stones. They would sit by the field next to the door, but they would lower those wings, holding in them mushrooms. In the afternoon, the birds were in the tree, with another, looking to find a sure place to eat. Turstan was still in a sculpted wood, so to speak, and all alone. She carried a bow, forty-pounds divided between Roman sling-bullets with a leaden edge. To each bird in the air, she would remorselessly pass out a few branches. Some of them would return and again replace them, and still others from the group came to see her anew.

When the sun set, she turned and killed them all, save six that remained till the end. The first three of those flapped at her, flying over her head and squawking between themselves, and he joined in, crying out amongst them, and that was her moment of happiness. The victory was the sweetest of the war, but after a moment she grew bored of it, realizing that in two years there would be no fewer crows.

"Your father was wise," said the tallest of the sleeping children. Not that, she thought, but crazy. Turstan was sooner a pig than she was wise. But clearly she makes a good soldier: she hates the enemy, just as she hated the crows.

Polyglottal Telephone XV

Details, including intermediate stages, here.

Initial Text

He had shoulder length light blond hair, brown eyes, and was wearing a green dress with wide straps, made out of the same material as Cormani’s vest, with a single thick waist strap with a bow on the back, as well as shoes that were nearly identical to Cormani’s. His name was Mardon, and he, as well as Cormani, had no noticeable facial hair, and even their body hair was fine enough that it was hard to see unless one looked closer.

Final Text (Team Charm)

This man had red hair that covered his shoulders. He had brown eyes, and a green coat made of the same material as Korman's toga, with big buckles. In the back of the coat there was a support, a wide belt, and he wore sandals that were almost exactly like Korman's. Unlike Korman, the man had no old radon machine. Although his hair was very beautiful, it was hard to tell if we were certain that he was worried about our souls.

Final Text (Team Strange)

His blond hair went down to his shoulder, and his eyes were brown. He used to wear a skirt and a big and wide belt. The belt was made of the same fabric as that of Mister Corman. Long ago, he used to only wear the belt over his shoulder, and his shoes, too, were the same as those of Mister Corman.

His name was Martin, and your mustache was not as tidy as that of Mister Corman. There isn't much hair. If he weren't near, he'd have to look at it a lot so that he would be able to see your mustache.

Polyglottal Telephone XVI

Details, including intermediate stages, here.

Initial Text

A cheer goes up in the room, and Miller Beem lifts his suit coat in a series of rising swirls until it is above his head and he is hooting like a cowboy.

Once everybody has settled down and congratulated Miller Beem, Sylvia lets it be known that she has no intention of following Miller's performance with one of her own.

"Only on the piano," she says.

"Fine," Hy says, "Somebody help me over . . . there with my juice." He flicks the oxygen canister with a fingernail. In a moment, Rudy is helping his father make his way slowly across the room with his oxygen. It's only then that Sylvia allows herself to feel her deep sadness again.

Hy, settled in a teak chair with armrests, says, "Play me . . . play me a song . . . Sylvia. Not one for the customers . . . one for me."

Final Text (Team Strange)

His birthday for sale. The mirror’s radiation around his face was real and the opinion of the chain was turning and my pants were real. Now that the light was giving life to the images, I walked towards my colleague. Sylvie described to me an incredible incident: "From ancient harpsichords here,” she said, “and here the same words. The help that your little genes have brought is crusty,” she said.

The complement changed thanks to oxygen bottles. Rudy helped his father breathe with the oxygen but now not even once could you see me in front of Sylvie and you couldn’t see the sensation of being nauseous.

Now you sit your hips down on the wooden chair, and I said “Sing a song! Sing a song… Oh, Sylvie! Sing such a song about this situation so that he can't hide. Sing for my situation!"

Final Text (Team Charm)

The cry is being sent over by himself. Bing Miller hit his coat, but took it with his head, and then he yelled like a cowboy. When everyone had stabilised themselves, and had lifted him to the heavens, Silvia told him she didn't want to speak as she used to. She said: "I would only play the piano." He said: "Somebody has to help me carry the fuel." He gently tapped the oxygen bottles with his fingernails, and Rudy soon helped his father carry the bottles, with much vigor. During this blinking with the eyes, Sylvia was ready. She left and forgave Moi for what the case did. He said: "Sit at the teak table." Listen! Sing me a song! Not for everyone, but for me!

Polyglottal Telephone 17

Details, including intermediate stages, here.

Initial Text

The Weaver stopped in the centre of the warehouse. Its elbows were pinioned, so that its captives could not move. With its forearms it dropped red-stained things across the floor. Isaac raised his head and looked around the room, trying to see through the burning pain below his temple. Everyone in the room was crying out, cringing, clapping their hands to the sides of their faces, trying without success to staunch gouts of blood with their fingers. Isaac looked down again.

The Weaver was scattering a handful of bloody ears onto the ground.

Below its gently moving hand, blood spilt across the dust in slicks of dirty gore. The gobbets of freshly sliced flesh fell, tracing the perfect shape of a pair of scissors.

The Weaver looked up, impossibly laden with struggling figures, moving as if unencumbered.

... FERVENT AND LOVABLE... it whispered, and disappeared.

(From Perdido Street Station by China Miéville)

Final Text (Team A)

The professional weaver captured a box. She was covered up to her elbow, so she could move. When the hand became red, a question was asked in order to go along, in order to stain herself. Isaac, with his head lifted up, looking around with a pain in his ear that was steadily becoming worse, was struggling to see something.

Everyone screamed and fell, and hit his hands against the head. With the look of a winner, he tasted the blood on his finger. Isaac looked down. The weaver blew dust out of his nose, which she held in her bloody hand. Under the dripping hand, where a red stain was appearing, blood began to come through the fire. The body that had just been cut off collapsed into the form of (a pair of) scissors. The weaver stared with a look of unbearable, frantic gratitude, and she whispered: "I love burningly", and died.

Final Text (Team B)

The merchants were waiting outside the cell. He gave them chains to keep custody of her, this way the prisoner would not move easily. He threw what he carries to the ground. When he had finished, Yusuf's leader would surely have to mind those who were prisoners in the cell, this he could do. After Yusuf had listened, he saw that they were in terror. He pressed his eyes with his fingers, but he cannot stop with them a bit of blood.

The merchants hurled a part of their ears to the floor, which then filled with blood. The blood, glistening like wax and flowing slowly from his hands cleaning very smooth what is cut; he then cut them in parts like an exact form. Therefore he saw his commander, seeing also a corpse with many wounds. Surely he would transform as much as he would accept near him. When he cooked, he shuddered.

He was very afraid, and cowered. When the commander woke up from sleep, he hid himself.