What would the PM say?

“The Chretienizer” at Buzz.ca (www.buzz.ca) translates any Web page into the Prime Minister’s unique speak, replacing “that” with “dat” and adding inappropriate apostrophes. Simply enter a favourite URL into the engine’s address bar or click on one of Buzz.ca’s options (the National Anthem, for example) and witness the irreverence.

It’s not the only translator of its kind, notes creator David Elfstrom. As the operator of Buzz.ca he found the time to code a number of “-izers” himself. They’re accessible by tweaking the URL in your browser’s address bar.

For instance, go to The Chretienizer and click on the PM’s version of our National Anthem. In the URL, change “dialect=0” (near the middle of the long locator) to “dialect=2” and witness Scooby Doo singing, “Ho Ranada.”

“Dialect=3” gives you a slightly broken version of R2D2’s rendition (Elfstrom is working on that one); 4 offers “semi-compliant Pig Latin;” 5 translates the song into “ROT-13,” an ancient encryption method once used to hide nasty jokes circulating the Internet. ROT-13 changes every letter into the succeeding 13 th character in the alphabet. “Dialect=6” is Elmer Fudd and 7 is “extremely cryptic script-kiddie speak.” You have to see it for yourself. “Dialect=8” corrupts the anthem thus: “O Canada! Gag me with a SPOOOOOON!”

According to Buzz.ca’s logs, many a government employee has tried The Chretienizer, but so far no one from the Liberal Party of Canada has contacted Elfstrom.

If you’re looking for more details about The Chretienizer’s technology, Elfstrom’s bare-all article about it resides on Kuro5hin (www.kuro5hin.org; search for “Chretienizer”), a Web site dedicated to “technology and culture, from the trenches.” The article includes links to other humorous translation engines. For example:

“The WebSmurfer” (http://websmurfer.devnull.net): This site invites you to “Smurf the Web!” As expected it turns regular pages into the peculiar language of the little blue animated people who had their own Saturday morning cartoon show in the 1980s.

“The T’inator” (http://firefly.sparse.org/~mrt) challenges surfers to pit their favourite Web pages against the dialect of Mr. T. “Welcome, Fool! Think your Web page is tough? No page is tougher than Mr. T, sucka!”

“Valley URL” (www.80s.com/Entertainment/ValleyURL): Like Elfstrom’s “dialect=8,” this engine puts a mid-1980s valley girl spin on any Web page.

Translation software watchers surely bemoan the demise of a few other laugh-a-minute engines. “The Jar Jargonizer” transformed Web text into the dialect of Jar Jar Binks, the CGI-created character from the most recent Star Wars film. Word has it LucasArts Entertainment Co. was not impressed with this unauthorized use of its creation.

At AskJesus.org (www.askjesus.org), pages were “jesified” a la the biblical text of St. James, but these days this URL redirects users to TheSpark.com, a worthwhile browse in its own right (read the “about us” section).

Elfstrom said he got the idea for The Chretienizer from “The Great Web Canadianizer,” a promotional tool that once resided on Molson Inc.’s Web site. Elfstrom said The Canadianizer got Molson in trouble with U.S. publishers who cried “copyright infringement” when the engine turned a newspaper headline, “500 people dead,” into “500 dead hosers.”

Elfstrom plans to make more translation engines, but in the meantime he’s looking for volunteers to build proper interfaces for his current dialects. If you want to lend some helping code – or even suggest other translation projects – contact Elfstrom via e-mail at admin@buzz.ca.

Stefan Dubowski is a freelance writer and self-described technoslave based in Hamilton, Ont. You may reach him by e-mail at stefan_dubowski@hotmail.com.