If you are talking via your cell phone or home phone any of the more well-known European languages can be translated using a Google app into another language, either in the form of text or in an electronic voice. Skype has also reported it is soon to offer a similar service in both Spanish and English but it will not be offering German translation services yet. No one is immediately saying that the end of more customary translation methods is likely to happen soon, such as those offered by a human German translator.
No doubt software can offer a reasonable idea of what message is being put across when it performs a translation but this might not be quite good enough for the business world. The translating business both for interpreting and the revising of websites so that they can accommodate a vast array of languages through the use of software generates $37 billion in revenue yearly. Translation in Europe was once limited to Italian, French, Spanish and German with Chinese, Japanese and Korean being the only Asian languages.
Commerce and politics in Europe have changed all that and now the European Union’s spokespeople have to be able to handle 24 languages, including once, ignored languages like Indonesian and Vietnamese. Even the large software business Microsoft has chosen to localize its products by translating them into lesser-known languages, such as Mayan or Luxembourg’s unique dialects. The translations that are taking place do not usually only use English as one of the languages.
The development of “translation memory” (TM) since the 1980s has meant that translators can make use of huge TM databases where complete sentences have been translated using a specific language pair which really does help when it comes to repetitive work, such as instruction manual translation.
“Machine translation” is moving ahead in leaps and bounds as computers have large databases containing text that has been translated already which can be drawn upon when translating some new text.
Jochen Hummel, who is a translation memory pioneer, stated that the next breakthrough would be the combining into one database software, content management and memory. It is not thought at this stage that software will completely replace the need for translators but it could help in the coordination between translators and clients by making the whole process more efficient.