Translate Your Speech in Real Time with Skype Translator — and Your Help is Requested

E ste es un anuncio que podría cambiar la forma en que nos comunicamos — which is the result of translating into Spanish using one of the free tools available via the Internet for the English sentence This is an announcement which could change the way we communicate.

The problem is that the translation is usually clunky and not accurate — to the point where you might get a raised eyebrow or a puzzled look on the face of the person with whom you are attempting to communicate when using it. Would it not be nice to simply communicate in your native language and have the other person — who has no knowledge of the language which you speak — be able to automatically understand what you are saying and easily communicate back to you without learning your language?

Enter Microsoft, whose Skype software application program — which allows you to communicate with anyone in the world via text, voice or video at little to no cost — reportedly started translating voice calls between English and Spanish speakers as of yesterday, December 15, 2014 through a preview program called Skype Translator.

“Today, we are excited to announce the first phase of the Skype Translator preview program”, Gurdeep Pall wrote in this article at the official weblog of Skype. “The preview program will kick-off with two spoken languages, Spanish and English, and 40+ instant messaging languages will be available to Skype customers who have signed-up via the Skype Translator sign-up page and are using Windows 8.1 on the desktop or device.”

Here is the official video which demonstrates Skype Translator:

Although I do have an account with Skype, I have yet to find someone who speaks fluent Spanish so that I may properly test the interface.

Whenever I visit a foreign nation, I always strive to learn at least one word or phrase — usually more than that — in the spoken language of that country. It shows respect to the person to whom you are speaking — as well as automatically suggests to that person that you have taken the time and effort to attempt to better communicate with that person.

I have mixed feelings about this technology. While it is exciting to know that I will be able to better communicate with someone who does not understand English using significantly less effort, there is something about learning another language — even if only a few words — which is satisfying. I feel like I have achieved something when I can communicate — even if in a rudimentary manner — to another person in a language previously unfamiliar to me…

…and I especially like the smiles and looks of appreciation on the faces of people to whom I speak a different language. They seem to not only be forgiving of my mangling and butchering their language — accent, grammar and sentence structure can be as critical as simply knowing the words to say — but they also seem appreciative. I especially like when a native speaker compliments me on my pronunciation.

The employee at the front desk of the Park Inn by Radisson Budapest hotel property was more than happy to teach me how to properly say thank you in Hungarian — as was the employee at the front dest of the Aloft Seoul Gangnam hotel property to teach me how to properly say thank you in Korean. Interestingly, I have used those phrases often enough that I now believe I will not ever forget them.

Regardless, there is a level of comfort to know that in a pressing situation, we can fall back on a tool which will eventually help improve communication around the world considerably — and Skype Translator has a lot of potential to be that tool.

“Skype Translator relies on machine learning, which means that the more the technology is used, the smarter it gets”, continued Pall. “We are starting with English and Spanish, and as more people use the Skype Translator preview with these languages, the quality will continually improve. We also need your help to expedite new language releases. So make sure you sign up, let your language preferences be known and get involved!”

These are some amazing times in which we live…

One thought on “Translate Your Speech in Real Time with Skype Translator — and Your Help is Requested”

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