Translation apps are a growing market. No longer do we need to fossick in back packs or handbags for our bilingual dictionary or phrasebook. No doubt there are now young international travellers who have never had to worry about the weight associated with carrying these books with their dog-eared pages.
I will be looking at a number of translation tools for travel but I will start with my favourite, Google Translate. This choice is is influenced by the fact that I have an Android phone which has serious memory issues (like its owner). This has meant that I am forced to use online translation apps rather than offline ones due to size limitations. The widget on my Android phone home screen allows direct access to Google Translate. Like all electronic translators it is not perfect and should only be used to get the gist of a discussion or text. Keeping sentence structure simple does help with accuracy.
I was extremely thankful for having loaded Google Translate on to my phone when I was returning from the tour I recently did to Kangaroo Island (The French take on Kangaroo Island). A young Chinese man seated in front of me on the bus was extremely agitated and was unable to communicate his concerns to the driver. None of the other passengers could speak Chinese and he had no English. Google Translate to the rescue. I whipped out my phone and within minutes I was able to establish that he needed to be dropped at an alternative location, explain to the driver what was required and reassure the young man that he would be dropped off as requested. I was rewarded with a huge smile of relief and gratitude. Thank you Google Translate!
- Translates 63 languages from Afrikaans to Yiddish.
- Voice input in 17 languages and text-to-speech in 24 languages.
- Conversation Mode allows direct communications with another person using speech-to-speech translation.
- Previous translations can be saved offline and favourites 'starred'.
- Simplicity of use and minimalist interface.
- Requires online access.
- It conveys general meaning sometimes mangling complex sentences.
- Regional accents and background noise may affect accuracy when using voice input but this will improve as people use it more.