Skype’s Arabic Translation: How Well Does It Work?

Microsoft recently announced a new feature for Skype: Arabic translation. Now, even if you can’t speak a word of the language, you can Skype in Arabic in real time.  But how useful is it? How well does it work, and in what situations?

On 8 March, Microsoft Translator added Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) to its list of supported languages. That brings the total number of languages supported up to 8 (the others are Chinese Mandarin, English, French, German, Italian, Brazilian Portuguese, and Spanish.)

Modern Spoken Arabic is a formalized version of Arabic that is taught in schools across the Middle East and North Africa.

Skype Arabic Translation: Who Should Use It?

Like all automatic translation available today, Skype’s Arabic translation is useful to specific groups of people in specific situations. Here are some groups who can benefit. Read more

8 Strange and Grotesque Good Luck Charms From Around the World 

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! The Irish have made four leaf clovers famous for good luck. But other cultures have their own good luck charms, and some of them may surprise you…or even haunt your nightmares. Here are 8 strange good luck charms from around the world:

Good Luck Charms From Around the World: Nazargood luck charms nazar

You’re probably familiar with the English saying “If looks could kill…” but some cultures take this belief more seriously than others. In fact, belief in the “evil eye,” a curse delivered by a malevolent or jealous glance, is common around the world, even today.

In Turkey and other nearby regions, people defend against the evil eye with eye-shaped amulets called nazars. These round glass amulets are designed to look like lidless blue eyeballs. They protect you by meeting harmful gazes with their own unblinking stares. They are always watching. They never blink. Frankly, it’s a little creepy. Read more

Notes from Hong Kong

Notes from Hong Kong

This week we have an interesting piece for the language blog from one of our exceptional team members, Liz Kim. After a whirlwind tour of Hong Kong, here’s Liz’s write up of the attractions she encountered in one of the world’s most impressive cities. Over to Liz…

Hong Kong is a fascinating, vibrant and exciting place to visit. It’s cosmopolitan yet integrally Chinese. 95% of its’ 7.1 million inhabitants are Chinese, and the city is constantly fuelled by newcomers from across the border. Now officially a Special Administrative Region of China with one of the highest population densities in the world but at the same time it is efficient, clean and very well organised. It was originally built by pirates, merchants and adventurers in the pursuit of wealth, the top dollar is still the main preoccupation of its current inhabitants. Nowhere is it more evident than in the myriads of shops of all types and sizes, and huge elegant shopping malls housing the famous high-end retailers. Shopping is a favourite past time of Hong Kong’s designer label conscious dwellers. Read more

Translation News- 7 Stories to Read Today

Translation News: 7 Stories To Read Today

No time to keep up with all the news in the translation industry? No worries- we’re here to help! Here are 7 recent language and translation news stories for you to read today.

New Languages for Google Translate 

Google Translate added 13 new languages last month, including Scots Gaelic,  Amharic, Corsican, Frisian, Kyrgyz, Hawaiian, Kurdish, Luxembourgish, Samoan, Shona, Sindhi, Pashto and Xhosa. This brings the total number of languages available to 103.  Impressive? Yes, but there’s still a long way to go. For more details on what’s still missing, see 8 Surprising Languages Not on Google Translate.

In a post on the Google Translate blog announcing the new languages, Google Translate Senior Program Manager Sveta Kelman explained how the company chooses which languages to include:

So what goes into adding a new language? Beyond the basic criteria that it must be a written language, we also need a significant amount of translations in the new language to be available on the web. From there, we use a combination of machine learning, licensed content and Translate Community.

Siri Doesn’t Understand Your Accent- And It’s Changing How We Talk

If you come from an area with a distinctive regional accent, Apple’s virtual assistant may have a difficult time understanding you. According to the Guardian, she stumbles when confronted with voices ranging from an Australian accent to an Indian accent to the distinctive “Texas twang.”

And according to Scottish computer scientist Alan Black, people are changing the way they talk to adapt:

“People speak to machines differently than how they speak to people. They move into a different register. If you’re standing next to somebody in an airport or at a bus stop or something, you can typically tell when they’re talking to a machine rather than talking to a person.”

Read more

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