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Furbish: the language of gibberish

It’s not gibberish, actually. It’s not much of a language, but there was an attempt at meaningful grammar. The original Furby had a vocabulary of 42 words, expanded in later versions. Yes, there were later versions, including one that came out in 2023.

They had 24 possible names, which were also meaningful phrases in Furbish, chosen randomly at startup. Toh-loo Kah is one of the most common. It means Like Me, which is a little needy, bud.

A new Furby speaks entirely in Furbish, which slowly switches to English (or one of six other languages) over time. The marketing implied that it learned your language by listening to you. This caused the NSA to ban Furbies from the workplace for a while, for fear it could record.

In truth, the microphone is so weak as to be nearly pointless. If you clap your hands next to it, the thing might say “big sound!” – and that’s about it. Hardly seems worth the expense of putting one in.

So how does it slowly switch languages? That seems oddly sophisticated to me, to start with one set of programmed sounds and gradually shift to a different one. I don’t understand how data is stored and manipulated on a circuit board. It seems likely to me that the words swap in a fixed order and fixed schedule.

The Wikipedia article says it would use phrases more often if you petted it when it said them. That seems a little too sophisticated to me, too.

Can confirm the one I got spoke mostly English when it arrived, but switched back to Furbish after a hard reset. It also forgot its original name, but I could never quite make that out anyway.

It’s got a little battery in it that recharges from fresh batteries, so it doesn’t forget what it’s “learned” after a battery change. I assume this is the root cause of some of the creepy Furby stories of them doing something without the batteries in.

Seriously, plug “creepy Furby stories” into YouTube.


Comment from ExpressoBold Pureblood
Time: January 24, 2024, 8:38 pm

Trump won the NH primary (for Republicans only, since the DNC punished the NH Democrats for not allowing FJB to dictate the order of their primary) by 40 points. The Democrats will not admit this since their political ploy was to seed the Republican primary with “unaffiliated” votes for Nimarata.

I think the word “gibberish” triggered my BDS just like the sight of him does.

Comment from LesterIII
Time: January 26, 2024, 8:07 pm

Back in early 2000s, some friends and I made a 120 minute cassette tape of Carlin’s 7 words, assorted others, and the isolated-vocal track from random Slayer songs (friend was an audio-nerd with a new computer). We played it near continuously (as possible) for the furby that one of said friends had confiscated from his daughter ‘cuz it was giving his wife nightmares.

Mixed results after 2 months, but was a very entertaining exercise.

I also used to replace my niece’s Teddy Ruxpin cassette tapes with Motörhead tapes: It looked like it was having a stroke.

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