Encyclopedia > Babel fish

  Article Content

Babel fish

The Babel fish is a fictional species of fish in The Hitch Hikers Guide To The Galaxy by Douglas Adams.

It is a highly improbable biological universal translator, a "small, yellow and leechlike" fish which, when inserted into the ear canal meant that the 'wearer' could "instantly understand anything said... in any form of language." This was both a useful plot device for Adams, who wrote on the subject that he always found the ability of all aliens to speak English very strange; and also the starting point for a joke about the existence of God.

According to the Hitchhikers Guide, the Babel fish was put forth as an example for the non-existence of God:

"I refuse to prove that I exist," says God, "for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing."
"But," says Man, "the Babel fish is a dead giveaway isn't it? It could not have evolved by chance. It proves that you exist, and so therefore, by your own arguments, you don't. Q.E.D.."
"Oh dear," says God, "I hadn't thought of that," and promptly vanishes in a puff of logic.
"Oh, that was easy," says Man, and for an encore goes on to prove that black is white and gets himself killed on the next zebra crossing.

The fish's name refers to the Tower of Babel, which is a building referred to in the Bible. The story describes the supposed events in Christian theology which led to God introducing different languages into the world.

The Babel fish inspired the name of the Babelfish online text translation service (http://babelfish.altavista.com/) provided by the web portal Alta Vista[?]. The existence of this online service "in no way proves or disproves God's existence on the Internet".

All Wikipedia text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License

  Search Encyclopedia

Search over one million articles, find something about almost anything!
  Featured Article
East Hampton North, New York

... of age or older. The average household size is 2.47 and the average family size is 3.07. In the town the population is spread out with 22.3% under the age of 18, 6.7% ...

This page was created in 51.6 ms