Whether it’s struggling to recall some GCSE French, or finding oneself completely at sea during cheap holidays in Asia, dealing with the local lingo overseas can be a holiday hassle that many UK travellers would prefer to do without. The process of booking a restaurant table, haggling over goods in a market or asking for directions can be fraught with stress and misunderstanding.
Fortunately there’s now ‘an app for that’ – thanks to translation firm myLanguage, which has recently made its Vocre app available for iPhone users. The app can translate the user’s spoken words into a wide variety of languages, taking advantage of crowd-sourcing technology to continually update and upgrade the quality of the translations available and render the finished sentences as grammatically correct and colloquial as possible.
The founder of myLanguage, Andrew Lauder, said of his new product: “It’s like asking your friend down the street, “How would I say this in Spanish?””
“It might not be something that’s expected by a dictionary — but it is the right way to say it when you go to that specific part of the world. It has the colloquialisms or slang of the area.”
To use the app, the iPhone user simply speaks into the device, which exploits the phone’s accelerometer to make this as easy as possible. The user simply holds the phone at one angle to record the voice and flips it the opposite way to make the iPhone ‘speak’ in the translated language of choice.
The translation technology has been developed by myLanguage and relies on Nuance for the speech-to-text tech and iSpeech for the speech-to-text technology. However, myLanguage’s contribution is a major one, as the engine listens and learns from user-contributed corrections and queries, plus the company’s professional linguists, to achieve consensus on what is the most natural way to phrase things.
Currently, Vocre can translate to and from three dialects of English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Chinese and Japanese, with a further 10 languages due to be added over time.