What Can Skype Translator Do for You?

[ 0 ] April 28, 2016 |

By Sarah-Claire Jordan

What Can Skype Translator Do for You photo

English is by and far the most common business and commerce language, so much so that it has come to be the lingua franca of the world, practically. Anyone who is anyone in international business has at least a basic level of English that is used to communicate with clients via email, read important documents in English, and more. However, oral English skills are still lacking in many cases. With globalization becoming the new methodology of every business, is there a way to remedy this?

Skype decided to tackle the problem last year when it released Skype Translator for the Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 operating systems. Machine translation is certainly not a new concept, but Skype wanted to make it possible to speak via Skype, have the software translate it into another language, and have the translation be spoken back to the person on the other end. This is by no means an easy feat, and so with it come some issues.

First of all, machine translation is far from accurate sometimes. Anyone who has ever typed anything into Google Translate can tell you that it is not the best tool for idiomatic language, slang, and much more. It does, however, allow you to get the gist of a paragraph in a foreign language, and can be good for quickly checking the translation of a short phrase. Skype Translator uses machine translation which works similarly to that of Google Translate, with the added software for voice recognition.

So far, Skype Translator works for 8 different languages for speech to speech translation, and 51 languages for Skype Instant Message. The speech to speech languages are English, German, Mandarin, French, Italian, Spanish, Arabic, and Portuguese. The main goal of Skype Translator is to facilitate communication via Skype between business partners and other teams and partnerships that straddle international boundaries. If that is to happen, though, a lot of things need to be fixed.

The main issues that come up when one tests Skype Translator are things that relate to how we speak naturally. All of those pauses, weird sounds, things we don’t enunciate properly, and so much more, are all problems for speech recognition software. These things either don’t get picked up on or end up being misinterpreted. One would have to speak extremely clearly, and even then, some testers have reported that some things definitely got lost in translation.

However, this doesn’t mean that Skype Translator won’t be an indispensable tool in the future. It was designed so that every time someone uses it, the software learns and adapts to what is being said. This is something that could be monumental and change the game for businesses that are globalizing. Already, many things are being worked on or are already fixed, including speech recognition, speech pattern recognition (as in pauses, rephrasing, etc.), and how the software handles languages with grammatical gender. Of course, nothing can replace a human interpreter, but Skype Translator has the potential to make communication much easier across linguistic borders.

For an overview of Alpha Omega Translations’ expertise, visit our audio and video translation service page.

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Category: Translation Tools

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