The language barrier can be a challenge when vagabonding. At the time, it can seem frustrating. Usually, it’s funny in retrospect when you talk about it with friends. Technology is evolving fast, however. Smart people around the world are working feverishly to break down the walls separating us from communicating with each other. Voice and text recognition is improving at a rapid pace. Hopefully, a real-life electronic Babel fish will be invented soon.
Google has built a site called “Demo Slam,” where it invites users to submit videos of themselves using various Google Apps. A pair of girls submitted a video where they tried using Google Translate. Watch for yourself to see their results.
Personally, I’d be wary of relying totally on a machine translation. For individual words and simple sentences, it might work okay. Beyond that, I’d be concerned about outdated vocabulary and weird results coming up. I have used Google Translate to double-check my meaning when I type in Mandarin Chinese. Sometimes it throws up words that aren’t used in common, colloquial conversation.
Have you used computer translation in your travels? How did it work out? Please share your stories in the comments.