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One of the more underrated aspects of Wikipedia – once described by someone smarter than me as a "quantum encyclopedia, where genuine data both exists and doesn’t exist depending on the precise moment" it's checked – is it's utility as a translation service, for both standard words and cultural terms.

For example, if I want to know what the Spanish word for "brown" is (I never believed my high school Spanish teachers when they told us it was color café), I can just go to the English page for "brown" and then click Español on the left to find out that the word is marrón. And where else could I learn that the German name for "Where's Waldo?" is "Wo ist Walter?" and that the Danish "Find Holger"? It's a simple idea and it tends to work quite well.

The reason we can do this on Wikipedia is that, as a worldwide encyclopedia, there are entries for most terms written in many, many different languages. The more standard or popular the term, the more languages have an entry for it. Star Wars, for example, has entries in 71 different languages, while the Beatles have 134 and Kevin Federline has 24. "Baseball" shows up in 95 different languages, including Simple English, Scots, and Esperanto. The entries vary in length and detail, seemingly depending on the country's familiarity with the topic.

In English, for example, the term's opening section (before the table of contents) spans three long paragraphs, covering the basic gameplay, the game's origins, and the main leagues around the world:

Baseball is a bat-and-ball sport played between two teams of nine players each. The aim is to score runs by hitting a thrown ball with a bat and touching a series of four bases arranged at the corners of a ninety-foot diamond . Players on the batting team take turns hitting against the pitcher of the fielding team , which tries to stop them from scoring runs by getting hitters out in any of several ways. A player on the batting team can stop at any of the bases and later advance via a teammate's hit or other means. The teams switch between batting and fielding whenever the fielding team records three outs. One turn at bat for each team constitutes an inning and nine innings make up a professional game. The team with the most runs at the end of the game wins.

Evolving from older bat-and-ball games, an early form of baseball was being played in England by the mid-eighteenth century. This game was brought by immigrants to North America, where the modern version developed . By the late nineteenth century, baseball was widely recognized as the national sport of the United States. Baseball is now popular in North America, parts of Central and South America and the Caribbean, and parts of East Asia. … 

The entry for Spanish covers a similar arc. Here it is, translated through Google Chrome's automatic translation service (please forgive any copy-errors brought on by foreign character sets):

The ball , also called baseball or base ball (of English baseball ) is a game set played between two teams of 9 players each. It is considered one of the most popular sports in the United States , Japan (reigning WBC ), Canada , South Korea (Olympic champion), Taiwan , Cuba (Pan-American champion), Australia , Mexico , Nicaragua , Panama , Puerto Rico , South Africa , Netherlands , Dominican Republic , Italy (European champion), Colombia and Venezuela . The countries of the sport powers are concentrated in America ( North , Central , Caribbean ) and Asia , with European and African continents laggards, though Europe has two good examples such as the Netherlands and Italy, and in Africa can only be highlight a selection of South Africa with some good talent.

It is played on a vast field of grass or natural artificial (except the area where the offensive players to reach the bases are located in the corners of the rectangular area called the diamond , and score , called Corridor line, and the area launcher where the ground is a mound of earth).

The team scoring the most runs after nine (9) episodes, called innings lasting encounter, is that it winner. If at the end of the nine regular innings score remains tied for a career, the meeting was extended as necessary for there to be a winner, according to the rules of the game there is no tie, allowed only in amateur leagues and children to limit wear of the players. …

Not all topic introductions are so detailed, however. In Japan, for example:

Baseball (and Old) is a field called the outdoor ball field (if it imitates or indoor ball) group performed in the ball of the sport is. English Baseball (baseball) refers to.

The competition is mainly with the countries of origin United States began, Cuba and the Dominican Republic , including the Caribbean countries surrounding Japan and South Korea , Taiwan, such as East Asia have been sports ball around the local country or region there.

"Baseball," The word is made ??in Japan during the Meiji era Japanese-made Chinese are.

(It's also a bit tougher to translate well, apparently.) The Germans are also very concise:

Baseball (American baseball ) is a ball and team sport of U.S. origin. She is now the most traditional sport. Baseball is practiced today in many other countries, particularly intense in East Asia and the Caribbean , but also in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

Of course, the best part of reading these translated entries are the strange translation decisions the engine makes at times. The Danish entry is a great example of this:

Baseball is an American ball games related to softball between two teams, usually composed of nine players each. A battle is progressing at the teams take turns being "inside" and "out". From inside the team, a player ( batsman ) attempt to strike a ball that one of the away team players ( pitcher ) throws. The ball is leather upholstery and hard with a core of cork and rubber , and the batter has a cylindrical træbat (or aluminiumsbat in the youth ranks) as he tries to hit it with.

A team can only score points, called runs , while it is inside, and it happens when the batter (and players who have previously enabled), moves forward past the four brands, called bases . The bases found in the corners of a square – or diamond – with an edge length of 90 feet , and they must pass in a counterclockwise direction. A player from inside the team that reaches safely to the fourth base, score a point. Team tries to get inside the team's runners knocked out before they get to score. …

I don't know exactly how "inde" and "ude" are used in Denmark in sports terms, but I love the idea of teams being "inside" and "out".

Then there are the different worldviews that become obvious through translation. As you might guess, the French entry gives a great example of this:

The baseball is a team sport derived from the same roots as the cricket . It is played with bats to hit a ball thrown, and gloves to catch the ball.The origins of baseball are controversial, but it is indisputable that the first modern rules (the "   Knickerbocker Rules  ") were codified in 1845 . The European roots of the game, long neglected by U.S. authorities to make baseball America's game, known long ago by American historians of the sport. The recent highlighting of a description of a game played in 1755 in Surrey ( England ) in this direction.

Leave it to France to point out how the "European roots" have been long known to "American historians of the sport".

With ninety other translations available, we could stay here forever looking at how baseball is viewed around the world. Instead, I'll leave you with one final link: the Farsi entry is fantastic thanks to its inclusion of a photo of "Rygly Field" and a photo of Alexander Cartwright in some sort of fantastic fireman's helmet. While not perfect, Wikipedia certainly has some uses.

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kenarneson
1/13
OK, you made me read the Swedish version. Most of it seems pretty straightforward. A couple of items of note: 1. It contains a pre-sabermetric-era explanation of the various slots in the batting order. The #2 hitter "should be good at bunting or otherwise placing the ball in play, as well as be fast." 2. They call a putout a "bränning", which literally means a "burning." You're not out, you're "burned". This is a term copied over from the Swedish stick-and-ball game "brännboll". 3. I love the Swedish word for batter: "slagman". And beyond that (although this isn't in Wikipedia, but I've seen it elsewhere), I really dig the Swedish term for "batter's box": "slagmansruta".
lgranillo
1/13
Thanks for pointing those out, Ken. I'm saddened to think that Sweden's baseball diamonds are filled with little blonde Brett Butler's bunting their way into the #2 spot... "brännboll" reminds me of something. If you read the Danish and German translations, you see them associating "baseball" with "baseball" or "softball". If you click through, the actual words are clearly the German/Danish words for "rounders". I guess the Google translation algorithm has a tough time with those words in context, however.
MichavdB
1/13
I actually remember providing some edits to the Dutch version. I just went back and noticed the Dutch winning the IBAF World Championships in 2011 has not been added yet. Or maybe I should just get to work....
lgranillo
1/13
"Op het Wereldkampioenschap honkbal 2011 in Panama-Stad werd Nederland voor de eerste keer in zijn historie wereldkampioen door in de finale Cuba met 2-1 te verslaan." I see you didn't get back to work right away, eh?
BurrRutledge
1/14
Tot ziens!
reznick
1/13
Larry, great job as always! I appreciate your elegant edit of the original description of wikipedia as a "quantum encyclopedia".
lgranillo
1/13
Thanks. It seemed more appropriate...
dwachtell
1/13
The Farsi one is also notable for its inclusion of a photo of the half-Japanese, half-Iranian Yu Darvish.
heyblue
1/13
Alexander Cartwright was a fireman. He is famous and beloved in Hawaii for bringing baseball to the islands and for serving as fire chief of Honolulu for years.
lgranillo
1/13
Well, there you go! I still love the picture they chose for the Farsi page, both for how great it looks and for the impression it gives Iranians about the game...
Oleoay
1/14
The Chinese one on baseball has some interesting pictures...
DandyDan
1/14
You can't necessarily blame it on the French to point out the "European roots" of baseball. It could have been the French Canadians. They might still be mad at Bud Selig for the Expos.
crperry13
1/14
From Farsi: Who are Babe Roth, Mark Mkvayr, and Sosa Toxic?
Oleoay
1/15
You don't understand the rules of baseball until you've read them in the original Klingon.