Pivot language

Pivot language

A pivot language, sometimes also called a bridge language is an artificial or natural language used as an intermediary language for translation. Using a pivot language avoids the combinatorial explosion of having translators across every combination of the supported languages.

The disadvantage of a pivot language is that each step of retranslation introduces possible mistakes and ambiguities. For example, when Hernán Cortés communicated with Mesoamerican Indians, he would talk Spanish to Gerónimo de Aguilar who would talk Mayan to Malintzin who would talk Nahuatl to the locals.

English, French, Russian and Arabic are often used as pivot languages. Interlingua has been used as a pivot language in international conferences and has been proposed as a pivot language for the European Union. Esperanto was proposed as a pivot language in the Distributed Language Translation project and has been used in this way in the Majstro Tradukvortaro at the Esperanto website Majstro.com The Universal Networking Language is an artificial language specifically designed for use as a pivot language.

Pivot coding is also a common method of translating data for computer systems. For example, the internet protocol, XML and high level languages are pivot codings of compuer data which are then often rendered into internal binary formats for particular computer systems.


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