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.
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:
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.