Translation Technology

Google translate Google’s free online Translate service has been a popular tool, but the company has big ambitions. In May, it bought Quest Visual, which makes the clever Word Lens app. That involves pointing your smartphone’s camera at signs in the real world for instant translations.

Google Glass Visual translation is also moving to wearable devices such as Google Glass. Word Lens launched for Glass last November and involves holding your head still while looking at a sign, then saying: « OK Glass, translate this. »

Skype Translator Microsoft, for example, has shown off an app, Skype Translator, which provides translations as people speak to one another in different languages. It will launch for Windows 8 devices later this year and has been compared to the Universal Translator gadget in « Star Trek ».

EBay The online shopping giant is also very interested in « machine translation » – in its case, to automatically translate listing details on its websites and apps. eBay has also said it’s interested in making more tools using translation: for example, instant messaging software for sellers and potential buyers to chat about a product even if they don’t speak the same language.

Twitter Bing Translate is a feature powered by Microsoft’s technology – to translate tweets from different languages. Users who have the feature on the iPhone Twitter app can tap on tweets to see a translation.

Sign Language It’s not just words that can be translated: sign language is a good candidate too. Microsoft has worked with Kinect Sign Language Translator, using the Xbox camera and motion-detection accessory to translate sign language into text and spoken language.

Online meetings Real-time translation for businesses is coming. HP is working with a startup called SpeedTrans to translate conference calls while they’re in progress, claiming to be able to handle conversations of any length in 44 languages. Its competition with Microsoft’s Skype Translate should ensure swift progress in this field.


What does an interpreter do?

Interpreters convert spoken or sign language statements from one language to another. Interpreting involves listening to, understanding and memorising content in the original ‘source’ language, then reproducing statements, questions and speeches in a different ‘target’ language. This is often done in only one direction, normally into the interpreter’s native language, but may be on a two-way basis. Interpreters facilitate effective communication between clients in the following settings:
•large conferences and formal meetings;
•business functions such as smaller meetings, exhibitions and product launches;
•criminal justice proceedings, known as public service interpreting or PSI, including police and probation service interviews, court hearings, solicitor interviews, arbitration hearings and immigration tribunals;
•community-based events and assignments within the education, health and social services sectors.

Interpreting can be carried out in various ways: person, whether in the same room or from a nearby conference booth; telephone, when the interpreter is in a different location from the speakers;
3.via video conferencing and internet-based technologies.

There are several types of interpreting:

1.Simultaneous interpretation (SI)  Simultaneous interpretation involves working in a team at a conference or large meeting. The interpreter sits in a soundproof booth (there are separate booths for each conference language) and immediately converts what is being said, so listeners hear the interpretation through an earpiece while the speaker is still speaking. A variation of this is whispering, or chuchotage, where the interpreter sits near one person or a small group and whispers the translation as the speaker carries on. Sign language interpreting is also usually simultaneous.

2.Consecutive interpretation (CI) Consecutive interpretation is more common in smaller meetings and discussions. The speaker will pause after each sentence or point and wait while the interpreter translates what is being said into the appropriate language.

3.Liaison interpretation. Liaison interpretation, also known as ad hoc and relay,is a type of two-way interpreting where the interpreter translates every few sentences while the speaker pauses. This is common in telephone interpreting as well as in legal and health situations. The interpreter supports people who are not fluent in the language being used to ensure their understanding.

4.Sign language interpretation.  Sign language interpreters convert spoken statements into sign language and vice versa. Interpreting from one sign language to another is a new area.

The following work activities are likely in any interpreting setting:
•assimilating speakers’ words quickly, including jargon and acronyms;
•analysing sentences expressed in one language and explaining them using another language;
•building up specialist vocabulary banks;
•writing notes to aid memory;
•using microphones and headsets;
•preparing paperwork – considering agendas before meetings, or lectures/speeches when received in advance;
•using the internet to conduct research;
•organising workload and liaising with internal departments, agencies and/or employers;
•working to a professional code of ethics covering confidentiality and impartiality.

by Leslaw Fiutowski