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Toshiba Intros Trilingual Translation App For Cellphones

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the like-a-liberal-arts-major-only-better dept.

Cellphones 44

MojoKid writes "Shortly after hearing of a simple, two-way Spanish-to-English translator for the iPhone, Toshiba has announced that it has developed a new language translation system that requires no server-side interaction. The app is designed to be operated independently on a smartphone, which will eliminate costly data roaming fees that are generally incurred using systems that require an internet connection to retrieve translations. The system is trilingual in nature and enables users to translate freely among Japanese, Chinese, and English."

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In... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30588906)

In soviet China, Japanese translates you!

With no roaming fees!

There are no roaming fees in China (1)

game kid (805301) | more than 4 years ago | (#30588964)

There are no roaming fees in China, only "People's Harmonious Technological Journey Dues".

Re:In... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30589012)

Yes but will it translate between English and Nigger?

I can't understand half of what those porchmonkeys are saying most of the time.

"Mup da doo didda po mo gub bidda be dat tum muhfugen bix nood cof bin dub ho muhfugga"

Re:In... (1)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 4 years ago | (#30589048)

The Translation [encycloped...matica.com] is:

"Hello? have I reached the owner of this cellular phone? You mistakenly left it on the train, and I wanted to mail it back to you. A reward? No, that won't be necessary; the good deed is a reward in itself."

Re:In... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30589200)

offtopic? Seriously, that would be very useful. And no, it's not racist. Every African-born black I've talked to has excellent English and doesn't want to be associated with niggers. Just like you don't want to be associated with inbred toothless meth-addict hillbillies.

Re:In... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30589302)

Wait, is this /b/? This isn't /b/ right? Sure, it's the /b/ of tech but it's not /b/. And don't give me that rules jibberjabber.

Trilingual (1)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 4 years ago | (#30588942)

If being able to handle three languages is "trilingual", what do you call a phone that can only support one language?

Re:Trilingual (2, Informative)

Osinoche (769786) | more than 4 years ago | (#30588990)

Monolingual. Next question.

Time for an Asian Vacation (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30588996)

Chinese: "Huong xi ching chang shen chong."
Japanese: "Toko ne tatekawa no kesaki."
English: "Yes honorable sex-worker, please do shit on my chest and insert an octopus in my ass."

Re:Time for an Asian Vacation (4, Insightful)

Fex303 (557896) | more than 4 years ago | (#30589178)

Chinese: "Huong xi ching chang shen chong." Japanese: "Toko ne tatekawa no kesaki." English: "Yes honorable sex-worker, please do shit on my chest and insert an octopus in my ass."

Given the usual accuracy of automated translation systems, this is what you'll get when you ask for directions to nearest 4 star hotel.

Re:Trilingual (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30589002)

American

Re:Trilingual (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#30593538)

As an American, this is worthless to me. I've never heard Chinese or Japanese spoken here, but you do hear a lot of Spanish, and lately in the convinience stores, Hindi and Arabic.

They have a Spanish-English translator that uses a server, why can't they use this tech to make a serverless Spanish-English translator? In many US cities there's more Spanish than English spoken, but nobody here speaks Chinese or Japanese.

Re:Trilingual (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30589070)

It's not "monolingual", like Osinoche says. What does he call someone who speaks two languages, stereolingual? The word you're looking for, BadAnalogyGuy, is "unilingual".

Re:Trilingual (2, Informative)

More_Cowbell (957742) | more than 4 years ago | (#30589164)

Don't normally bother responding to ACs, but you are wrong on both counts.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monolingualism [wikipedia.org] -(although "unilingual" is obviously also used, 1/2 point for you there.)

What does he call someone who speaks two languages, stereolingual?

No, that would be bilingual.
Good luck with your next correction!

Re:Trilingual (1)

marciot (598356) | more than 4 years ago | (#30590934)

An American phone.

It's about time. (1)

Quantos (1327889) | more than 4 years ago | (#30589058)

Finally, a translation app that just might be effective.

Re:It's about time. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30589448)

There are three options:

  1. It is a simple electronic phrase book, with no pretence at enabling arbitrary conversation.
  2. Its creators are super-geniuses who have solved a fiendishly hard AI problem that has been baffling the smartest brains in MT research for decades.
  3. No, it is yet another worthless piece of crap that will not be effective in the slightest.

I know which my money's on.

Re:It's about time. (1)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | more than 4 years ago | (#30589532)

You missed part of this:

Its creators are super-geniuses who have solved a fiendishly hard AI problem that has been baffling the smartest brains in MT research for decades.

... while limited to the locally available resources and processing power of a cell phone.

Re:It's about time. (1)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | more than 4 years ago | (#30590180)

It's not a general purpose solution. It's tuned to a single user, with a limited vocabulary, and a particular microphone/speaker configuration. That reduces the complexity needed by orders of magnitude, especially regional accent and uncommon vocabulary problems. Solving limited, special problems is almost always easier than "general solutions". And given the ludicrous expense of full-blown current solutions, and their frequently abominable errors, I'm not surprised that such a limited solution might work well with the resources of a modern cell phone.

Even people have trouble (2, Interesting)

starbugs (1670420) | more than 4 years ago | (#30589112)

There is a world of difference between translating between Spanish and English (two European languages) and English and Japanese or English and Chinese.

Even bilingual people have trouble,www.engrish.com [engrish.com]

Re:Even people have trouble (2, Insightful)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | more than 4 years ago | (#30589134)

Actually it's only half of a world of a difference.

Re:Even people have trouble (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30589326)

Actually Chinese to English and vice versa shouldn't be too bad, getting the main ideas in. Japanese on the other hand is terribly difficult to translate even for people, and all online resources for translation are beyond terrible up until now.

Color me skeptical.

Re:Even people have trouble (1)

DriedClexler (814907) | more than 4 years ago | (#30590916)

The top entry as of now says: [engrish.com]

Our mission is to make our customer ... say what a so tasty!!

That looks-a more like Itarian.

That's not an example of this. (1)

Estanislao Martnez (203477) | more than 4 years ago | (#30591178)

There is a world of difference between translating between Spanish and English (two European languages) and English and Japanese or English and Chinese. Even bilingual people have trouble, www.engrish.com [engrish.com]

Most of the stuff in the Engrish site is not a good example of difficulties in translation at all. A true example of difficulty in translation would be when a full bilingual (somebody who can understand and speak both languages correctly) would have difficulty rendering the meaning of a source language text into the target language without either using a lot of footnotes/parentheticals, or just dropping a lot of nuance.

The examples on the Engrish site don't fall into that category, for the most part, either because they're not really translations, or because they're translations but the people doing them are not bilingual enough to produce grammatical, idiomatic English. They fall into these:

  1. English text used in Asian products for purely aesthetic reasons. In this case, the target audience doesn't know English beyond some elementary vocabulary, and the people putting the English text on the products neither. Hanzi Smatter [hanzismatter.com] is a site dedicated to the Western counterpart to this phenomenon. The technical terms for these are either "As Long As It Sounds Foreign [tvtropes.org] ," or "Gratuituous English," depending on the details.
  2. Translations meant to communicate with English speakers, but done by people who don't really master the language; i.e., translators who are not fully bilingual. (Hint: if you want a translation to be right, you probably want to hire a translator who's a first-language speaker of the target language.) We could call this one "Eloquent In My Native Tongue [tvtropes.org] ."
  3. Computer translations, typically of Chinese restaurant menus. These tend to involve the word "fuck" very often [upenn.edu] . (No, no clever names for this one.)

talk to me (2, Informative)

SoupGuru (723634) | more than 4 years ago | (#30589192)

I've poked around Talk to Me, an app for Android. You speak your phrase into it and it speaks back in the language of your choice.

I don't know if it requires a data connection or not, but we're living in the future now.

Good start (1)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 4 years ago | (#30589208)

When they develop a phone for anilingus, I'll be the first in line.

Re:Good start (3, Funny)

brusk (135896) | more than 4 years ago | (#30589262)

Doesn't RIM produce one?

Re:Good start (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#30594374)

Your phone doesn't have a vibrate mode?

Saw it at CEATEC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30589260)

They showed it off at CEATEC in Japan earlier this year, except the WinMo phone was hooked up to a speaker so that everyone could hear the translations easily. They only mentioned translation between Japanese and English at that time. The software did not work too well as there was a lot of background noise, but when it did properly understand what I was saying, the translation was accurate (so I was told anyway).

Chinese/Japanese/English? This is great! (1)

babybird (791025) | more than 4 years ago | (#30589354)

This will definitely make it easier and slightly cheaper to meet and communicate with my future wife! Maybe. Or not.

Re:Chinese/Japanese/English? This is great! (1)

Alioth (221270) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592150)

Sorry, mail order brides are from *Russia*, not China or Japan...

Stop! (1)

tyroneking (258793) | more than 4 years ago | (#30589364)

"What did he say?"
"I dunno - here - give him this iPhone - it has a translation app"
"Nah - it's bust - no network signal in this area, something about the local cell provider not supporting network heavy phones in this area - If only it was a Toshiba"
"Anyway, where's that syringe gone ..."

Re:Stop! (1)

filthpickle (1199927) | more than 4 years ago | (#30590498)

"What did he say?" "I dunno - here - give him this iPhone - it has a translation app" "Nah - it's bust - no network signal in this area, something about the local cell provider not supporting network heavy phones in this area - If only it was a Toshiba"

how dare a company, a giant player in the industry, and not a person want us all to have wireless broadband.

This should be amusing... (2, Insightful)

tulare (244053) | more than 4 years ago | (#30589438)

As anyone who has ever used an online translation engine can tell you, going between English and either Chinese or Japanese leads to a stream of gibberish which at best gives the wily reader a hint of what the original topic might have been about.

I foresee a few tourists on both sides of the pond having some epic adventures as a result of relying upon this app :)

Re:This should be amusing... (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#30594640)

Well, it's better than sticking a fish in your ear.

Oblig. (1)

ThatsNotPudding (1045640) | more than 4 years ago | (#30590156)

"My hovercraft is full of eels."

Bonguerno (0)

physburn (1095481) | more than 4 years ago | (#30590568)

Bonguerno Signero, Votre entre une wordo per lingua translateation, une letter per tempo.,

--> Aardvark

Errata wordo non lingua franka

---

El Humour [feeddistiller.com] Feed @ Feed Distiller [feeddistiller.com]

Computer translators (1)

Froeschle (943753) | more than 4 years ago | (#30590972)

Scientists are more likely to design a warp drive before they do a truly effective translation program. Anyone who is bilingual would be happy to tell you just how difficult translation is. Human languages are not just sets of words and phrases that can be converted 1 for 1 back and forth. They are extremely complex with shades of meaning and varying context which must be inferred based on associations that only humans are able to make. It seems that monolingual Anglophones are the most difficult people to convince just how terrible computer translators are. In my office in Germany we usually get two or three pieces of correspondence a week where some Anglophone, ignorant of foreign languages, tries to translate their English to German and send it to us thinkiong they are doing us a "favour". It's always good for a laugh....

Re: Computer translators (2, Interesting)

khellendros1984 (792761) | more than 4 years ago | (#30591504)

And German is even relatively similar to English...aside from switching around word order and obeying German grammar, something can be phrased in German and English in a very similar way. It may sound clumsy in one language, but it can be understood. In comparison, a sentence translated from English to Japanese frequently uses a completely different word structure. As an example:
English: I like you

German: Ich mag dich.

The English and German bo take the form of [Subject Pronoun] [verb] [Object pronoun]. An equivalent in Japanese would be "Anata ga suki desu". That breaks down as [Pronoun] [Topic marker] [na-Adjective] [Formal copula]. And that's for a very simple sentence.

Re: Computer translators (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30593368)

anata wo suki desu

Anata ga suki desu would mean "You like [something]"

You would typically drop the "anata wo" and just say "suki da" and leave the rest to context. "desu" is a pretty formal for telling someone you like them. That is just a tiny drop in the enormous lake of cultural context you need to say even relatively simple stuff without fucking up in Japanese.

I think that a good JEEJ translation program would be pretty much synonymous with Kurzweil's singularity.

Re: Computer translators (1)

baka_toroi (1194359) | more than 4 years ago | (#30596598)

You are wrong, GP is correct.

Re: Computer translators (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#30595024)

I don't know, it depends on how effective you need. When I was stationed in Thailand in 1973 I learned enough Thai to order a meal in a restaraunt, tell a cab driver where I wanted to go, let a drug dealer who was pointing a gun at my face that I only wanted to buy some pot, understand them when they told me what their wares cost, etc. I certainly couldn;t have gotten on a stage and explained how a transistor radio worked, but my limited communication skills were as effective as I needed.

My biggest problem with both Thai and Spanish wasn't grammar or syntaxt, but remembering what word meant what. I used a translating dictionary (dead tree) for that, and it was as effective as I needed.

Warp drive, otoh, may in fact be physically impossible.

Just trilingual? (1)

t0p (1154575) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592098)

A trilingual translator. Impressive, I suppose. But how long will it be before we get the universal translator of Star Trek and Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (babelfish) fame? I might be tempted to pay $5 for such a beast.

Yeah, until someone hacks this (1)

DrStoooopid (1116519) | more than 4 years ago | (#30602916)

....and when someone does hack it, we're going to see:

"My hoooovercraft is full of eels....."
"Please fondle my buttocks"
"Pull down your panties, I can't wait till lunchtime"

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