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Travelling with Google Translate

Going travelling? Rich recently covered why you might be wary about using Google Translate for business materials, but what about personal travel?

Google Translate’s mobile apps promise to replace bulky phrasebooks and time spent memorizing key phrases with instant, real-time automatic translation. The question is, do they live up the hype? Looking at recent tests of the service, the answer is clearly “it depends.” Google may aspire to build Star Trek’s “Universal Translator,” but they’re not there yet.

 LA Times writer Sarah Hashim-Waris recently took the app on a test drive during a trip to Tokyo, where she was more often than not left struggling to communicate and dependent on the kindness of bilingual strangers. She describes one particularly egregious example here:

“’You are using me kimono I think Nishika. Kimono Nishihata large four.’ Say what? These were the responses from a shopkeeper in the Asakusa district, who spoke only Japanese, when I asked him about the items he sold in his traditional kimono store. Or at least that’s what Google Translate told me he said. What the patient shopkeeper was trying to say was that he designed the pieces he sold in the store – something I wouldn’t have been able to pick up from what Google Translate relayed to me, if some English speaker hadn’t kindly stepped in.”

The quality of translation depends on the languages you’re translating between, as this comparison from The New York Times shows. And to be fair, The Frugal Traveler used the Google Translate app on an off-the-beaten path assignment in China and found it quite adequate, with a little bit of prep work to save frequently translated phrases. Still, even the Frugal Traveler recommended carrying a phrasebook for backup.

Have you used Google Translate’s app while traveling? How did it work for you?

Top 3 Language Translation Traveller Apps

In today’s digitally connected age we are fortunate to have connectivity and access to our smart phone/tablet of choice virtually everywhere we travel. Regardless of location, in most instances we will be able to utilise our smart phones and tablets in some capacity. One of the advantages of this new era in technology is that the savvy traveller can now take advantage of the many wonderful applications designed to enhance any type of trip. When it comes to traveling to new lands it is always handy to have easy to use, informative and fast language translation tools at your fingertips.

As technology tears down cultural boundaries it is now becoming much easier to communicate across borders. Smart phones and tablets are now more then ever before allowing for language barriers to be broken in ways we never once imagined. If you’re like me and seem to not be able to go anywhere without your personal electronic devices then this is a great opportunity to review some of top language translation applications currently available.

Obviously (and I’m not just saying this because I’m biased) none of these will replace or do the same job as a professional translator or interpreter. But if you need to get by and/or want to have some fun while you’re on your travels these will help. So here you go… 3 language translation apps for the modern traveller. Read more

Cheese rolling

Unusual Festivals From Around the World

The world can be a strange place, take a look at some of these unusual festivals taking place all around planet Earth. There’s are so many more, so if you’ve been to, or know of, any we’ve missed let us know in the comments at the end and we’ll set about building the greatest bucket list of weird and wonderful celebrations…

Here goes, brace yourselves…. Read more