I was reading my Korean English newspaper today when I came across a very neat conversation/interview
between Korea's first astronaut (and a woman!) Yi, Seo Yeon and Google vice president, Vinton Cerf, often dubbed the father of the Internet. Here's what he said that piqued my interest,
Cerf said Google wants its translation service to help people overcome language barriers so they can access a greater amount of information online.
“Google is very interested in improving natural language translation. The most important thing in translation is getting syntax and grammar right. A long time ago, someone tried to translate ‘Out of sight, out of mind’ from English into Russian, and it came back ‘invisible idiot.’ That gave us an important lesson,” said Cerf.
I have written here and other places championing google and especially the versatility of their Google Talk. You can chat with another person in two completely different languages! I've tried it with some of my Czech friends and though a little clumsy, it gets the job done.....<>Here's an explanation
and also go here
to get it directly. Google is experimenting with "chatter bots" , talking computer animations and so I know they are following my logic (or more likely - I, theirs!).
Now, I don't think we should be rushing off for the beach and forgetting to study English! There are still many valid reasons for monolingual communication -- if I may use that term. Still, it foreshadows other developments to come which will help language learners.
Once there is good translation happening, quick computerized translation - the next step is voice! You simply add voice to it and you can talk to anyone! Not their real voice but I can see how the voice could be refined to approach that of the speaker. And there you go -- you are in many ways approaching standard English communication through voice and speech technology. Weekly, more and more companies are coming out with talking translators and one day, someone will hit the "tipping point" and combine the right ingredients into one BANG on product. I won't be surprised if it is google....they are making the world a better place. Here is just one example of a free downloadable Talking Translator
Has anyone taken a look at the amazing translator
on our main page? I see how this is really helpful to language learners and I hope it becomes more common place and versatile...
Good Luck my friend Vinton! If you need any help - give me a ring, I'll be waiting for the call -- I've got ideas! (and that's all but enough....).