News | 06.12.2010

Simultaneous interpreting service in the pipeline for Google

Google has announced the imminent launch of its simultaneous interpreting service that will be used in conjunction with Gtalk. The news has already caused quite a stir in language circles, so The Translation People decided to take a look at what’s on the menu for this new instant multilingual communicator.

Gtalk is Google’s instant messenger and voice over internet protocol (VOIP) that already comes with automatic machine translation that supports the following languages: Chinese (simplified and traditional), Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Turkish. Soon people will be able to communicate using the automatic simultaneous interpreter that will provide real-time voice-to-voice interpretation.

At the press conference for Google’s new Turkish-language voice services, reported on the above simultaneous services and gave a run-down of the technical spec. Based on a ‘semantic code’ rather than a ‘phonological code’, the capabilities are intelligent, so the system improves over time with increased user input. Currently available for iPhones and on the Android platform, its debut on Blackberry is planned in the next few months.

This simultaneous intepretation service may be perfectly acceptable for communicating on instant messenger, and we are not denying the vast amount of work and research involved in producing such linguistic products. However, concerns have been voiced regarding accuracy, differentiating between different accents, dialects and the ability to cope with industry-specific terminology.

However, for international meetings involving multilingual communication, the time will never be right for machine-generated interpretation services instead of qualified, professional human interpreters. Quite simply, the stakes are too high.


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