Google Translate Beatbox

by Translation Guy on January 12, 2011

The audio feature in Google Translate is just the cat’s meow. And that’s not the usual Translation Guy archaism. I mean that literally. One, it sounds like cats meowing. And two, as the owner of a service that also offers telephone interpreters, it is a Googlish dagger pointed straight at the heart of my business, and is as disturbing to me as the sounds of tom cats fighting outside my window. Now, on account of reason #2, I have a fiduciary responsibility to waste time messing around with it.

Since it only talks and can’t listen, it’s still pretty useless, at least for translation purposes. A few weeks ago in “Extra Spicy Google Translate”, I shared a YouTube video of two charming young women using it to order some take-out from an Indian restaurant. By some miracle, they managed to get what they wanted, but frankly it would have gone a lot smoother if they had just used a telephone interpreter from 1-800-Translate, simply by calling 1-800-872-6752. That number again…

But we’ve been beaten again. Our hard-working interpreters can’t match Google Translate when it comes to beat boxing. First discovered by Reddit user harrichr a few weeks ago, the audio feature on Google proves to be a lot better at laying down a beat than at translating to eat. Here’s how it’s done:

1) Go to Google Translate

2) Set the translator to translate from German to German

3) Copy + paste the following into the translate box: pv zk pv pv zk pv zk kz zk pv pv pv zk pv zk zk pzk pzk pvzkpkzvpvzk kkkkkk bsch

4) Click “listen”

It works in many languages besides German, some better (Icelandic recommended) and some worse. Chinese sounds techno, Macedonian for synch, all 43 languages have their own sound. Open multiple tabs, select multiple languages and you can overlay tracks. Unlimited possibilities here.

Here’s a guide to some of the sounds, offered up by iamdave at hacker:

Here’s your rudiment/instrument notation

zk = suspended cymbal

bschk = snare

pv = brush

bk = bass

tk = flam1

vk = roll tap

kt = flam2

kttp = flam tap

krp = hi hat tap

pv = short roll

th = better hi hat

thp, ds = instant rimshot.

I imagine that in a few weeks we’ll have entire symphonies being composed by all these brilliant composers with lots of time on their hands. I’d lay down some tracks for my hommies here if I could figure out how to turn off the mute on this stupid computer (it’s been days since I’ve been able to listen to Lady Gaga and I’m too ashamed to call IT), so I am looking for props from all you GTB hommies out there to post your work below. In the meantime, you can check out some of the links above for some brilliant mixes.

How will we respond to this competitive challenge? Next up, a crash course emergency beatbox training meeting we are having with all of our interpreters in order to answer this latest competitive challenge from Google Translate.


  1. harrichr says:

    Thanks for the credit Ken, I really appreciate it and how youre hlping my street cred with your popular blogging. Many thanks ~ Rajen.

  2. The Circuit says:

    just composed this one:

    gr gs gr bsch tsc pv tsc bsch tsc gr gs gr bsch tsc pv tsc bsch tsc gr gs gr bsch tsc pv tsc bschk


  3. Poptart says:

    Have you seen Google has now changed the button from “listen” to “beatbox” ? 😉

  4. Laylay says:

    LOL, this is gangsta!

  5. As a translator, I’m so addicted to making GTBBs (google translate beatboxes)!

  6. Bob Harrell says:

    great idea!

  7. Jenny Case says:

    This is ridiculous, possobly your most out-there post yet Ken.

    • Ken says:

      Standing by for your beatbox composition, Jenny….

      • Jenny Case says:

        Lol, you first Ken 😉

  8. …someone tell gunter grass about this. we’re a step away from audio translation.
    i wonder if a language with a long oral tradition such as japanese, which is designed
    for the entire memory based on few but prolific nauatl verbs could talk to itself
    and plot its minimal sounds? and you thought the japanese were just smarter than
    we are, they are, but it’s their language design that’s superior. now if we could only
    trick english up for memory by putting the screws back into its phantom discipline.

  9. Its amusing how many individuals want to be famous when so numerous of them wind up like Lindsay Lohan. Can’t be all its cracked as much as be.

LiveZilla Live Chat Software