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Skype translator

  Tags: Skype | Software | Translation
 Language Learning Forum : Links & Internet Resources Post Reply
Spanky
Senior Member
Canada
Joined 3944 days ago

1021 posts - 1715 votes 
Studies: French

 
 Message 1 of 8
17 December 2014 at 12:47am | IP Logged 
Time to pack up the language learning tents: courtesy of Microsoft's new Skype translation feature, soon no more need to learn each other's languages - just Skype who ever you may run into in the streets if they speak a different language, instead of all that pesky language study just to enable face-to-face conversation.

skynet's new translation feature

I wonder how well this will work.
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robarb
Nonaglot
Senior Member
United States
languagenpluson
Joined 3047 days ago

361 posts - 921 votes 
Speaks: Portuguese, English*, German, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, Swedish, Esperanto, French
Studies: Mandarin, Danish, Russian, Norwegian, Cantonese, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Greek, Latin, Nepali, Modern Hebrew

 
 Message 2 of 8
17 December 2014 at 3:18am | IP Logged 
This technology is cool and probably will be quite useful once it's refined some more. While it might slightly
lessen the need to learn a language for some people, it almost certainly won't matter for most people here who
consider learning a language to be a valuable activity.

The translation quality will of course be worse than text translation, since the speech sound must first be
converted to words, with the potential for errors, before it can be translated. Would you find your communication
needs met by text messages with machine translation? This is inherently less accurate than that, so I imagine it
will work only under quite favorable conditions (clear, standard speech, a few errors not critical).

Even though you could use a calculator, there is still value in knowing math. Therefore, unless your only reason
for learning a language is to enable communication with monolinguals, carry on as usual. Those of us who learn
a language with few or no monolinguals (Dutch, Swedish, Latin) have already dealt with this question.

And if you ever find yourself in need to communicate with someone who doesn't speak your language, in a
setting where you both have internet access, and you prefer speech over text communication: great! The future is
here, and now you can do so.
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Spanky
Senior Member
Canada
Joined 3944 days ago

1021 posts - 1715 votes 
Studies: French

 
 Message 3 of 8
17 December 2014 at 4:08am | IP Logged 
robarb wrote:
... carry on as usual. ....


I agree with all that you say and was entirely being facetious of course. I like studying languages myself entirely for activity of learning itself.

Having said that, I am increasingly impressed with strides being made in language-related technology.    

Edited by Spanky on 17 December 2014 at 4:09am

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robarb
Nonaglot
Senior Member
United States
languagenpluson
Joined 3047 days ago

361 posts - 921 votes 
Speaks: Portuguese, English*, German, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, Swedish, Esperanto, French
Studies: Mandarin, Danish, Russian, Norwegian, Cantonese, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Greek, Latin, Nepali, Modern Hebrew

 
 Message 4 of 8
17 December 2014 at 11:20pm | IP Logged 
I intend only to pre-empt those who will come here and say either "Yes, this technology actually does make
language learning useless," or "This technology will not work, and even if it does it would be bad and useless,"
which seem to be (caricatures of) common opinions.
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kujichagulia
Senior Member
Japan
Joined 2835 days ago

1031 posts - 1571 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: Japanese, Portuguese

 
 Message 5 of 8
18 December 2014 at 2:58am | IP Logged 
Hehehe... some of my own students have tried to use technology on their smartphones
similar to this to communicate with me. I was doubled over with laughter.
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Iversen
Super Polyglot
Moderator
Denmark
berejst.dk
Joined 4691 days ago

9084 posts - 16476 votes 
Speaks: Danish*, French, English, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Swedish, Esperanto, Romanian, Catalan
Studies: Afrikaans, Greek, Norwegian, Russian, Serbian, Icelandic, Latin, Irish, Lowland Scots, Indonesian, Polish, Croatian
Personal Language Map

 
 Message 6 of 8
18 December 2014 at 10:33am | IP Logged 
If it was so easy how come then that Youtube hasn't got it on all videos by now - with all the resources of Google behind the company? They tried doing voice transcripts (just for English) a few years ago, but the attempt somehow fizzled out. And now Skype promises something similar for 40 languages overnight?

Edited by Iversen on 18 December 2014 at 10:35am

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patrickwilken
Senior Member
Germany
radiant-flux.net
Joined 2521 days ago

1546 posts - 3200 votes 
Studies: German

 
 Message 7 of 8
18 December 2014 at 11:51am | IP Logged 
I seriously considered not learning to touchtype more than 20 years ago, as there was a lot of hype at the time that voice recognition systems would soon make keyboards obsolete.

I actually think voice recognition has come a long way, but voice recognition systems have not taken off (except for particular applications like Siri) because it's just so much nicer/easier to type.

In a similar way I strongly suspect speaking will remain in vogue for a long time to come and so I'll keep plugging away at my language learning. ;)

I could imagine this sort of Skype/Google/Apple technology at some point replacing A1-B1 level, but watching Google Translate it's obvious that C1 and C2 levels are still safe for sometime.

One of the characters in the book 2313 is working as a (English) speaking labourer on Venus with mostly Cantonese speakers, and attempts to learn Chinese with something like a Skype/Google-Glass equivalent - by speaking what he thinks are the correct Chinese phrases and then getting horribly mangled re-translations back. It interesting that even in this depiction of a society with something like an automatic translator, being able to speak is held very believable in high regard.

Edited by patrickwilken on 18 December 2014 at 11:59am

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daegga
Tetraglot
Senior Member
Austria
lang-8.com/553301
Joined 2509 days ago

1076 posts - 1789 votes 
Speaks: German*, EnglishC2, Swedish, Norwegian
Studies: Danish, French, Finnish, Icelandic

 
 Message 8 of 8
18 December 2014 at 2:20pm | IP Logged 
And how would this help me reading a book or watching TV?
Well, I could use translations and subtitles in the first place, but it's just not the
same.

I don't learn (third, fourth etc.) languages in order to be able to communicate with
others. English covers that already in my case. There is more to it than that.


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