You can’t lose this week! That’s because there’s not a new contest this week. Three and a half weeks from now, the Empress will be lounging on an exotic (okay, Delaware) beach, blissfully disconnected from this newspaper’s “content management system,” Methode, better known within the newsroom as “that piece of [not ‘blueberry pie’] Methode.” And so on the weekend of Aug. 18-19, the Invite will feature some of the many worthy entries from recent contests that we didn’t have room to run. So you might as well get to work instead on Week 980, which is still going on — deadline is Monday at midnight (whenever your midnight is): It’s to come up with a definition for any of 30-some words that the Losers coined for the Week 976 contest — words like “twithy” and “butthoven” — neologisms for which we’re certain that there are funnier, more clever definitions out there than the ones the entrants came up with themselves. See the list and the contest rules at
The subhead for this week’s honorable mentions was submitted separately by Tom Witte, Chris Doyle and Kevin Dopart; the alternative headline in the “next week’s results” line is by Kathy El-Assal. Join the very lively Facebook page Style Invitational Devotees on.fb.me/invdev for a discussion about the contests and results, along with Loserly repartee ranging from links to important news developments (“Talking urinal cakes deployed to curb drunk driving”) to impromptu limericks about that night’s ballgame.
Report from Week 977
in which we repeated a contest from 2004 to see how much Google’s translation tool had improved: As we did then, we asked you to have Google translate some English passage of your choice into another language (there are more than 60 choices now), then have Google translate that result back into English, then guffaw over how wrong the final result was.
In techno-time, of course, eight years is past “era” and into “eon.” But we were still astonished how Google Translate had become almost creepily adept at this task — almost all the passages that were so comically mistranslated the first time around came out virtually identical to the originals. On top of that, it turned out that sometimes the translations of the Week 977 passages would improve a few days later. (In these cases, we honored the earlier versions.) Fortunately, we allowed an extra step this time: You could keep translating Google’s translation into yet another language, and another, before returning it to English. Some of the more determined Losers telephone-gamed their passages through as may as 27 tongues. But we still found lots of gems in the plain old two-step process.
All that Loserly digging turned up at least one “Easter egg,” a little prank left in the coding by some wag at Google. Judy Blanchard of Novi, Mich., randomly tried out the passage “Nadal is the best player,” translating it into Azerbaijani. Translated back to English, it read: “Federer is best player.”
So many First Offenders this week that we’ll just note them with asterisks.