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Hands on With the PSP Talkman Translator

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 8 years ago | from the handheld-of-babel dept.

Education 126

PSP News writes "Lik Sang has a review and hands on of Sonys new Talkman accessory for the PSP, which enables translation of 4 of the worlds most spoken languages. From the article: 'Traveling and meeting people from all around the globe sure is fun, but may have its drawbacks when you're not speaking the language. To ease this barrier, innovation comes via Sony which took ScanSoft's speech recognition software and created both an universal language interpreter and trainer for English and a couple of Asian languages: Japanese, Chinese (Mandarin) and Korean.'"

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126 comments

hm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14119462)

This has a lot of potential. Imagine not having to learn a language when moving your business into a new country, because all you have to do is carry your PSP around.

It probably doesn't work very well, but in a few years it'll probably be advanced enough for actual use.

Re:hm (2, Interesting)

rxmd (205533) | more than 8 years ago | (#14119625)

Imagine not having to learn a language when moving your business into a new country, because all you have to do is carry your PSP around.
So I guess the market is ripe for an English/Hindi version, then ;)

But seriously: whom would you prefer to do business with - the guy who constantly tinkers with his PSP, or the other guy who actually bothered to learn your language?

Re:hm (1)

dogolopee (886299) | more than 8 years ago | (#14119712)

Some people are not adept at language. In my travels I've noticed that every country/natonality has a sizable porton that cannot speak propper (insert dominate language of the region here). Not everyone has the talent to learn to speak a new language. I for one have a hearing problem that makes speaking or understading tonal languages (and some accents) very difficult. From a buisness standpoint, you often do not have the time to learn a new language, especially to the extent needed when dealing wih complex buisness negotiations and terms that are very subtle. Also professional translators are not always on hand, or some information is too sensitive for anyone but the people involved to hear. In the beginning I'm sure this kind of technology is not going to be as good as learning the language or having a translator on hand, but is good for those situations when the other options are not feasible. It will take time before we have the universal translator type devices that do fairly decent translations on the fly, but something that is simple, easy, and allows buisness to get done or the tourist to find their hotel is good start.

Re:hm (2, Funny)

david.given (6740) | more than 8 years ago | (#14119820)

But seriously: whom would you prefer to do business with - the guy who constantly tinkers with his PSP, or the other guy who actually bothered to learn your language?

Given that anyone who learned the language wouldn't be interested in getting the translator software, I think a better question is:

Who would you prefer to do business with - the guy who constantly tinkers with his PSP and is making an effort to communicate, or the other guy who thinks you're mentally subnormal because you don't speak English?

possible use (0, Redundant)

tuxkamen (157118) | more than 8 years ago | (#14119463)

Wow, is it possible I'll be able to understand the vendors at my local computer shows now? Eh, maybe not, Sony probably programmed it with DRM that "protects" whatever they're saying anyway.

Vem behöver dessa? (4, Funny)

G3ckoG33k (647276) | more than 8 years ago | (#14119468)

Sannolikt alla dessa icke språkkunniga folken som strövar över vidderna därute.

Re:Vem behöver dessa? (5, Funny)

tpgp (48001) | more than 8 years ago | (#14119528)

Swedish:
Sannolikt alla dessa icke språkkunniga folken som strövar över vidderna därute.
Translation from the talkman:
My hovercraft is full of eels.

Re:Vem behöver dessa? (1)

ZeroZen (136166) | more than 8 years ago | (#14119585)

"I will not buy this record, it is scratched."

"This is a tabaconist."

"Ah. I will not buy thus tabaconist, it is scratched."

Re:Vem behöver dessa? (1)

Namronorman (901664) | more than 8 years ago | (#14119609)

Ah, Monty Python's Flying Circus! On almost every day on BBC America, dunno about the real BBC though. That episode was on last week I'm pretty sure (:

- Spiny Norman

Re:Vem behöver dessa? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14119890)

After the patch had been applied, the translation now reads:

First post?

Re:Vem behöver dessa? (1, Funny)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 8 years ago | (#14119554)

Can it translate half translated texts already? For example:
I want knulla with a hora but I have only sex krona so she shows me her fitta, I say "Tak!" and go home to do a little runka with my kuk.

Re:Vem behöver dessa? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14119638)

Of course it can:

Translation:

Mitt luftkuddefarkost är fylld med ålen

From the article (1)

ploss (860589) | more than 8 years ago | (#14119700)

From the article:

Deconstructing Talk Mode: MAX is at a loss

We are a bit shy to admit: after our early successes, we went overboard. Boy, what new gadgets can do to you! Creating a quick brainstorm session in our tech chamber, we tried to come up with questions that one person from the English speaking realm possibly might want to ask when visiting the Japanese videogame store Eldorado, famous Tokyo district: Akihabara. Here are some Talkman results for rather geeky questions that may or may not have been asked before in Japan's ultimate games Mecca:

- Question: "My little brother took my first-edition white Saturn for a dive when showering, can you advise on where I could get replacement parts?"
- Talkman results (Shopping): From "Where should I go to pick it up?" to "Where can I find a florist?"

- Question: "As for the rumor of a Scottish checkered edition of Pokemon for NeoGeo Pocket Color existing, can you confirm and would you have stock?"
- Talkman results (Shopping): From "Do you have this in a lighter color?" to "It's a little flashy for me."

- Question: "My wireless Commodore64 controller interferes with my neighbour's newly bought lawnmower vehicle, can he sue me for every time his brakes fail?"
- Talkman results (Meeting People): From "That was gross!" to "What a surprise!"

Re:Vem behöver dessa? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14120091)

I got... "Probably all these nots språkkunniga folks as roaming over scope därute."

I give up.

Re:Vem behöver dessa? (1)

foniksonik (573572) | more than 8 years ago | (#14120154)

I'm sorry but my talkman only translates the TOP couple of languages.... "you seem to have written in an unsupported language... ERROR 404 language not found."

so basically (1)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 8 years ago | (#14119478)

it seems like a phrasebook with a large blue 3d bird.....

Re:so basically (3, Interesting)

forkazoo (138186) | more than 8 years ago | (#14119565)

Yeah, doesn't look to stellar. Goes along with the "Wireless TV" thing for the PSP... Sort of a yawn.

That said, for the next generation of handhelds, I can see a huge opportunity for really great language learning games. Nintendo could probably pull it off. Imagine having to control a character through an adventure game by voice, where each level forces you to learn new vocabulary. ("Take the blue book" "push the button on the largest robot" "thinly slice the duck, and sautee it in a plum sauce until golden brown, then serve on the china with a floral pattern."

With a built-in dictionary, and lesson-tutor modes. Also, handwriting recognition with the touch screen. , to help you learn the alphabet of the language. Maybe FMV snippets, so you can see real dialogs with visual cues. Having interactivity could really improve the learning process, if it were done right. If you are pronouncing a vowell sound wrong, it could give you extra tutoring. Visual cues could help you understand a scene without having to resort to your native tongue as much as a pimsleur audio tape, improving your immersion. Seeing bad results of your commands could help you organise the difference between similar sounding words, which would be very abstract in a classrom, or with a text book. "Flip the cup." (character turns over soffee cup, dumping it on ground) "No, dammit, I meant SIP from the cup." (Helpful animation appears split screen showing both what the character needs to do, and the word that the player used, with text at the bottom stating the verb.) Obviously, you couldn't make it perfectly intelligent so that It would be able to make sense of every wrong statement, but you could get a lot of generic animations for verbs, and models for nouns which could be shown when the player fails to use the right word.

The best technology language learning technique is (1)

ahfoo (223186) | more than 8 years ago | (#14119685)

actually really simple.
        It's nothing more than a DVD or Xvid file with subtitles and two PCs.
        You take one PC with the subtitles or the audio in your native tongue and another in the language you're trying to learn. As you go through the movie, re-type the subtitles in the target language repeating the spoken phrases in the target language. The re-typing and reciting part is to drill it into your head since just watching the movie tends to leave you forgetting everything a minute later. If you have the discipline to sit down and do it, this is a really fast technique and you're working with complete sentences is context with body language so it really helps you remember phrases in context rather than vocabulary which is practically useless by itself.
          You could do the same thing with two DVD players and two TVs, but I find the controls on a PC are much easier to work with for the constant back and forth it requires and I think the re-typing part is essential so you need at least one PC anyway and of course a keyboard with the target language keyboard layout. If your target is Chinese, you can get fonts with phonetic symbols for your subtitles that will allow you to key in the characters even if you don't know the pronunciation. All those things are available on a Debian system.
          However, although this technique rocks, I think the only way to really learn a foreign language is to get a lover who speaks that language. Almost every English native speaker I know who has learned spoken Chinese well has taken this path and it's definitely the way to go. I took classes for years and could hardly open my mouth, much less be understood. But after a year of living with a Chinese girlfriend it became second nature without even trying. Of course you risk ending up married and living in China, but that's not as bad as it sounds.

Re:so basically (1)

Felmir (444239) | more than 8 years ago | (#14120301)

Yes, the perfect learning environment for us! That way we can go to another country and learn how to boss them around by giving them orders! "Command and control" based language works well for gaming, but it is hard to keep the playability when switching to other types of dialogues (I.E. Greetings, Shopping, Restaurants...). There are hundreds of immersive and interactive language learning programs out there, but they don't market to handhelds because they aren't really playable as far as a gamer would demand. Even the ones for PocketPC and Palm don't do that well because the environment isn't that great for learning.

Too bad those are not the most spoken languages... (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14119479)

The top four are the following
1. Chinese* (937,132,000)
2. Spanish (332,000,000)
3. English (322,000,000)
4. Bengali (189,000,000)

They are the most spoken (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14119538)

In their top demographic countries.

Actually it might be English. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14119631)

Wikipedia hints at English being number one, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_language [wikipedia.org]
in the far right with secondary speakers 150 - 1 billion.

English is obvioulsy the most taught secondary language, and that is set to only increase. There aren't any good exact stats on how widely taught it is.

Re:Too bad those are not the most spoken languages (3, Interesting)

gordo3000 (785698) | more than 8 years ago | (#14119632)

do make the distinction that those numbers are only for native speakers.
those numbers for english don't even add up well when you consider that there are at least 4 english speaking countries I can think of, UK, US, Canada, and Australia. I believe there are three African countries that speak english nad then New Zealand but I'm not positive.

Those numbers ignore the millions of people in India nad China who learn english. In india, it is required to get into college(as they all are taught in english).

Re:Too bad those are not the most spoken languages (1)

Kagura (843695) | more than 8 years ago | (#14119707)

Korean is listed as one of the world's top four spoken languages, but this is very false. With only 70 million native speakers, do you really think that there are enough people who have studied Korean to push it up to the top four? I don't think so, myself.

Re:Too bad those are not the most spoken languages (1)

GeorgeMcBay (106610) | more than 8 years ago | (#14119713)

which enables translation of 4 of the worlds most spoken languages

Note that it says "4 of the worlds most spoken languages", not "the world's 4 most spoken languages". I don't know about the other 3 languages but it looks like your English could use some work!

Most.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14119795)

Are they the languages that most media that actually reaches across globally is in? Are they the most anything? Maybe it doesn't have to do with how many speak those languages but how much commerce or media are widely available or ubiquitous in those languages?

Re:Too bad those are not the most spoken languages (3, Interesting)

chill (34294) | more than 8 years ago | (#14119851)

Not quite.

Chinese is not Chinese. I worked at a company that employed several Chinese engineers. While they could all read the same newspaper, they couldn't all talk to each other. Those from the south (Hong Kong and surrounding area) couldn't understand those from the north.

Also, the population of Australia, New Zealand, the United States, Canada and the U.K. is > 322,000,000 and while you could subtract the minorities in the U.S. and Canada that don't speak English, you're still missing the 300,000,000+ in India who speak English. Throw in all the other places where English is known, to some usable degree, as a secondary language and you're probably looking at 750,000,000+ speakers.

It is also, along with Spanish and French, one of the most widely dispersed languages in the world. There may be a ton of Bengali speakers, but I'll be 95% of them are in the Bengal region of North-Eastern India and the surrounding area.

And then consider this is a Sony Japan product. Their market -- East Asia -- deals mostly in (surprise) East Asian languages and English.

  -Charles

Re:Too bad those are not the most spoken languages (3, Interesting)

Afrosheen (42464) | more than 8 years ago | (#14119887)

Yeah, Chinese dialects are probably the world's most fragmented. While the written language is a standard, the spoken language is nuts. There are around 10,000 dialects in Chinese, and about 3 or 4 major dialects (mandarin, etc.).

  English is becoming very popular in Asia just as a bridge language. Chinese may not be able to speak to Taiwanese or Hong Kong people, but if everyone knows a little English, they can get by (and do business with Europe, consequently).

Re:Too bad those are not the most spoken languages (2, Informative)

pilkul (667659) | more than 8 years ago | (#14120127)

Yeah, the different Chinese languages are "dialects" of each other like Spanish is a dialect of French. The only reason many Chinese like to call them "dialects" is the nationalist "One China" propaganda.

Re:Too bad those are not the most spoken languages (1)

croddy (659025) | more than 8 years ago | (#14120280)

And to think there was a time when Spanish and French were called "Vulgar Latin".

Re:Too bad those are not the most spoken languages (1)

Y0tsuya (659802) | more than 8 years ago | (#14120292)

Actually, written language has fragmented into two: traditional and simplified. In cold-war parlance, traditional characters were used by "Free Chinese", while simplified were used by "Godless Red Communists". Those raised and educated on traditional characters find the simplified ones very "strange", and vice versa. I was in China a few times but couldn't make out 1/2 of of the words there. Some I guessed at the meaning between recognized characters, but other I had to ask my Chinese colleague for help. Most western students of Chinese prefer simplified because it's "simpler". But to us, the simplified characters has lost most of their connotative meaning.

Re:Too bad those are not the most spoken languages (1)

bataras (169548) | more than 8 years ago | (#14120016)

good post. but can't help levitizing here...

>>Chinese is not Chinese. I worked at a company that employed several Chinese engineers. While they could all read the same newspaper, they couldn't all talk to each other. Those from the south (Hong Kong and surrounding area) couldn't understand those from the north.

I worked for a company that employeed several California engineers. They could all read the same newspaper. Those from the north couldn't understand those from the south.

Re:Too bad those are not the most spoken languages (1)

merlyn (9918) | more than 8 years ago | (#14120131)

Not to mention that Australian "English" and American "English" are sufficiently different that misunderstandings can occur. Vowel sounds, word meanings, word choice, and phrase pitch are all somewhat different. I learned this the hard way the first time I went from my home in the US to "down under". They could understand me just fine (lots of exposure to American television), but I would sometimes have to ask them to repeat or explain things.

Re:Too bad those are not the most spoken languages (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14120550)

I think you're exaggerating.

Re:Too bad those are not the most spoken languages (4, Informative)

adam1101 (805240) | more than 8 years ago | (#14120310)


Chinese is not Chinese. I worked at a company that employed several Chinese engineers. While they could all read the same newspaper, they couldn't all talk to each other. Those from the south (Hong Kong and surrounding area) couldn't understand those from the north.

True, but you cannot extrapolate too much from your anecdote. Even by conservative estimates, the Mandarin dialect accounts for 800 million+ almost-native speakers. Your experience is colored by the fact that Cantonese is especially overrepresented in California. If you take a random Chinese person in China (or even Asia), there's a high probability that he or she understands Mandarin. It's true that the probability is much lower if you take a sample from the Chinese in the US, but there are over a billion Chinese in China and only a few million in the US. While there are indeed a lot of different and mutually incomprehensible (spoken) local variants of Chinese, in the larger scheme only two count: Mandarin [wikipedia.org] and Cantonese [wikipedia.org].

Mandarin was the local dialect of the area around Beijing, and later adapted by the government as the official national language of China (both the People's Republic (PRC) and Taiwan). In absolute numbers, it is by far the most important. In the PRC, although most regions and provinces have their own dialect used in daily life, the language used on TV and school is Mandarin. This may sound like Mandarin is a second language to the local dialect for most Chinese, but it's more like a "second native" language, as 1) all courses starting from elementary school are completely in Mandarin regardless of the local dialect, and 2) the script is the same as the local dialect. Thus, the majority of Chinese from Taiwan or the PRC will speak Mandarin (in addition to their own local dialect).

Cantonese is the native dialect around Guangdong (Canton) and Hong Kong, in the south. It's less important then Mandarin, but overrepresented the West (especially California and in the UK). Its importance is due to two factors: 1) a large proportion of early Chinese emmigrants came from the Guangdong (so many later emmigrants even from other provinces learned it as it was the language of the established community) and 2) it's the native language of the economic powerhouse Hong Kong. Most younger people from HK speak Mandarin pretty decently nowadays, but not as well as those from the PRC, since (AFAIK) courses in HK schools are still taught in Cantonese, and Mandarin is indeed a second language. However, many older Chinese emmigrants in the US and their descendents only understand Cantonese.

Re:Too bad those are not the most spoken languages (3, Informative)

ShakaUVM (157947) | more than 8 years ago | (#14120428)

> Chinese is not Chinese. I worked at a company that employed several Chinese
> engineers. While they could all read the same newspaper, they couldn't all talk
> to each other. Those from the south (Hong Kong and surrounding area) couldn't
> understand those from the north.

All people in China are taught Mandarin these days, even in the south (where a student will grow up learning both Cantonese and Mandarin now).

Many Cantonese speakers will pick up Mandarin. My fiancee moved from Hong Kong around 6th grade (pre-changeover so no Mandarin in school), and learned Mandarin in AMERICA, simply from talking with other Mandarin speakers. Pretty amazing, but it only took her a year or so, and she can converse fluently in Mandarin.

Hence a Mandarin translator is about all you need, insofar as the new generation of Chinese go, especially if you are dealing with mainland China. A Cantonese one would be nice, but you'll get much better coverage with Mandarin.

Re:Too bad those are not the most spoken languages (1)

hodma727 (915852) | more than 8 years ago | (#14119985)

Except that barely half of the population in China actually speaks Mandarin, and even then, most of those that speak it speak so so as a second language. The written language is much more pervasive. http://english.people.com.cn/200501/03/eng20050103 _169500.html [people.com.cn] The relevant sections: "Mandarin's status as China's standard language has been further enhanced as nearly 53 percent of the 1.3 billion Chinese in the country can communicate with others via Mandarin, said a national survey released here Sunday." And most still speak in their local dialect instead: "The survey also shows 86 percent of the population can speak regional Chinese dialects, and nearly 5 percent use the languages of China's 55 ethnic minority groups to communicate." Even then, the numbers might be higher than reality: I suspect it is easier to interview people in the cities than those in the countryside :)

Re:Too bad those are not the most spoken languages (1)

kopper187 (59901) | more than 8 years ago | (#14120190)

Mandarin 885 million
English 470 million
Hindi 418 million
Spanish 362 million

Top four for all speakers, not just natives. I'm not sure why the Chinese is listed as Mandarin when there are so many different dialects.

source: http://www.nicemice.net/amc/tmp/lang-pop.var [nicemice.net]

My ears!! (5, Funny)

simp (25997) | more than 8 years ago | (#14119487)

I'm not going to stick a PSP in my ear! Have you seen the size of it? I'm sticking to my fish, proven technology.

I WANT TO PUT MY PEE PEE IN YOUR POO POO HOLE (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14119488)

What's all that white goo coming out of CmdrTaco's anus?

all i gotta say is... (5, Funny)

God'sDuck (837829) | more than 8 years ago | (#14119508)

Software solutions are great, but *be sure* to memorize (with your brain) "Where can I buy batteries?" in your target language...

What? (1)

Rosyna (80334) | more than 8 years ago | (#14119702)

That *would* be funny if not for the fact that the PSP uses rechargeable lithium ion batteries. So asking where to buy batteries at is not going to help to.

coolest thing ever (-1, Redundant)

redwoodtree (136298) | more than 8 years ago | (#14119517)

wow, this could really cahnge the world and umm like stuff!

Re:coolest thing ever (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14119792)

If that's evidence of your prowess with your native tongue, I think you'll need more help with foreign languages than a PSP can offer.

Phone line plug + Hindi (4, Funny)

spectrokid (660550) | more than 8 years ago | (#14119520)

If it has a phone line plug, maybe we can use it for calling tech support?

Re:Phone line plug + Hindi (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14119996)

*sigh*Hindi is spoken by a very small percentage of those in India, English is more commonly spoken because India use to be an ENGLISH colony.

Korean? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14119523)

English, Japanese, Chinese, that's ok, where is Korean one of the most spoken languages in the world?

Re:Korean? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14119595)

where is Korean one of the most spoken languages in the world?

Korea, perhaps?

Re:Korean? (4, Informative)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 8 years ago | (#14119611)

Ok, so not very widely spoken, but despite rampant racism against ethnic Koreans in Japan, a lot of younger Japanese are really getting into Korean culture and are starting to choose Korea over the Americas and Europe as their favorite international tourist destination. (namely because of Korean soap operas, but that is beside the point). Sony would probably lose a significant chunk of sales in its home market if it neglected to include Korean.

Hungarian (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14119711)

It ill be complete only if it can help Hungarians in London. ;-)

Thomas

Hack (1, Funny)

interiot (50685) | more than 8 years ago | (#14119527)

How long until someone hacks it to speak Tux?

Okay, seriously... how long until I have one to use when travelling to Q'onoS?

Re:Hack (1)

forkazoo (138186) | more than 8 years ago | (#14119604)

Honestly, I'm surprised there isn't an extensible open source language translation community. Makes sense that there would be. Any group can maintain a database for a particular language, and there would be a standard for how the databases interact. I don't know enough about linguistics or machine translation to try to start it, but it sure seems like something that would be well recieved.

Wikipedia and Wiktonary sort of some close, but as far as I know, there is no dorect correlation between the Japanese wiktionary and the english wiktionary, so I can't easily use it for making fansubs. :)

I wonder how it would translate... (5, Funny)

xfletch (623022) | more than 8 years ago | (#14119553)

"Hello sir, I can't be bothered to learn your language so would you mind speaking to the badly animated sesame street character on my portable gaming device?"

I guess this isn't going to be as big a hit among the international business community as Sony might have hoped.

Re:I wonder how it would translate... (4, Funny)

EvilMonkeySlayer (826044) | more than 8 years ago | (#14119676)

"That is quite alright good sir, now could you please notice my large sharpened metal object and give your portable gaming device in much haste?"

Re:I wonder how it would translate... (4, Insightful)

lakin (702310) | more than 8 years ago | (#14119742)

I dont know, it cant be worse than the current British method:
"Hello sir, I can't be bothered to learn your language, so would you mind learning mine?"

Re:I wonder how it would translate... (1)

Stuart Gibson (544632) | more than 8 years ago | (#14119959)

"I know, it's a crushing bore, but it's just this national hangup we've had since we used to own you fellows."

Re:I wonder how it would translate... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14120499)

or the current US method:
      "hello undocumented person sir, we'd hate to burden you with the process of citizenship and our cumbersome language, by 2012 we will have completely phased your language in as our second national tongue."

Re:I wonder how it would translate... (1)

Parham (892904) | more than 8 years ago | (#14120247)

Can you imagine this situation:
- you show someone translated text on your PSP
- they ask if they can hold it to read it closer because they are nearsighted
- they run away with your PSP

Which person wouldn't run away with a PSP if you gave it to them to look at. Afterall, you're on foreign land, and they figure there is only so much you can do without your translator. I think a good phrase to memorize in different languages would be "someone stole my translator".

Is there a subtle message here? (2, Informative)

thesilentkiller (890312) | more than 8 years ago | (#14119574)

and a couple of Asian languages: Japanese, Chinese (Mandarin) and Korean

two make a couple
three make..mmm...err...more than a couple

Unless you are trying to say that Korea is a part of China or Japan!

--
Some men see things as they are and say, 'Why?'
I dream things that never were and say, 'Why not?'
Sir George Bernard Shaw

Re:Is there a subtle message here? (0)

lampiaio (848018) | more than 8 years ago | (#14120147)

err, no.

According to the Oxford Dictionary:
couple
noun
1 [...] informal an indefinite small number.

Engrish (-1, Troll)

rxmd (205533) | more than 8 years ago | (#14119577)

Great! Engrish [engrish.com] for everybody! (At least judging from the spoken English skills of the average Japanese or Korean...)

Re:Engrish (5, Insightful)

dancingmad (128588) | more than 8 years ago | (#14119656)

And how much Japanese or Korean do you know?

This stupid meme pisses me off to no end. I'm here in Japan and frankly the Japanese speak far better English than we (generally) do Japanese, and we're students learning Japanese. Yes, a lot of Japanese speak poor or no English, but very, very few Americans speak another language; further speak a non-Romance or Germanic language with any real skill. Yes, English study in high school is a joke. But on the whole, the Japanese are much better at speaking to foreigners than most American are.

And frankly, I have some rspect for the people who don't speak English. Unlike us South Asians who speak English as some post-Colonial hang up, they have their language and they use it.

Finally, it's damn hard to learn a language, especially when its so different from your native one. Japanese is not the hardest language to learn (out of what I've studied that distinction would either go to Chinese or Arabic). That some people can speak any English at all is amazing.

maybe you could ignore it then? (1)

YesIAmAScript (886271) | more than 8 years ago | (#14120106)

Why read and get involved in a meme when it just makes you unhappy?

I find Engrish funny.
I find http://hanzismatter.com/ [hanzismatter.com] funny.
I find it funny when the Tick could only speak high school French.
I find it funny that the only words of Spanish Beavis knows are "Burrito" and "Spaghetti".

I guess I find language jokes funny. If that includes Engrish, then so be it.

Re:Engrish (2, Insightful)

God'sDuck (837829) | more than 8 years ago | (#14120372)

And how much Japanese or Korean do you know?

the concept of "engrish" isn't mocking non-native speaker's attempts to speak english, it's mocking the jaw-droppingly common practice of non-native-speaking *companies* thinking it's normal to have interns with no grasp whatsoever of the target language doing the translating for signs and boxes.

sure - my spanish is terrible - but when i'm preparing materials in spanish, i *ask a native speaker to proofread*

ergo: japanese =/= funny; engrish == funny.

Re:Engrish (1)

ShakaUVM (157947) | more than 8 years ago | (#14120485)

> This stupid meme pisses me off to no end. I'm here in Japan and frankly the
> Japanese speak far better English than we (generally) do Japanese, and we're
> students learning Japanese. Yes, a lot of Japanese speak poor or no English, but
> very, very few Americans speak another language; further speak a non-Romance or
> Germanic language with any real skill.

Here's my group of friends (mainly white guys, plus a Korean and a Chinese) and the languages they speak:
-Korean (fluent), French (pretty good), Spanish (a little), Chinese (a touch)
-Russian (two years in college)
-Mandarin (one year in college), French (a little)
-Spanish (pretty good)
-Spanish (pretty good), Cantonese (native), Mandarin (pretty good), Japanese (a little)
-Korean (native), Spanish (a little)
-Russian (native)

And there's more, I can't recall what they speak off the top of my head. Basically each person has some random language that they speak, many of which are not from the obligatory 2-4 years of Spanish in high school. But yeah, it's amusing watching a white guy cuss so much in Korean that the Korean starts turning red with embarassment, so of course all the other white guys picked up on em.

I agree with the observation that you can't know your own language until you learn another. I took Mandarin after graduation mainly to try to expand my mind. Plus, it's like a gigantic practical joke. =) Saying something in Mandarin to random Chinese people always makes my day. =)

From the community college classes I took, only maybe 1/3rd of the class were actually students that were there to earn credits or even cared about their grade. Everyone else was a working professional, learning Mandarin on their own time, either for fun, for work, or because they were dating a Chinese woman.

I think the main resistance to foreign languages in America is due to the fact that being forced to learn a foreign language is a grueling, painful experience. But if you WANT to learn a language (and most of the people were just like that), it's amazing how fast you can learn, and how fun the process is. So, in conclusion, I think it's not as bad as you say it is. I think there's a growing desire in America to pick up a second language, even out of college.

Re:Engrish (1)

Hiro Antagonist (310179) | more than 8 years ago | (#14120518)

Actually, Japanese is considered to be harder to learn than Chinese, at least for native English speakers. This is mostly due to a combination of three things: Massively different writing systems (Chinese also has this), SOV grammar (Chinese is SVO like English), and large gradiation in politeness levels (Chinese is on a par with German in this area, AFIK).

So, yes, Japanese is a bitch to learn for English speakers, and English is a bitch for Japanese speakers.

On the flip side, Japanese English education is a joke compared to the foreign language education in the States. Students in the U.S. are required to take a whopping four semesters of foreign language to get a Bachelors' degree, and this includes classes taken in high school. Japanese students are drilled on English (as I recall) from 6th grade on, and are required to take English classes in University as well.

So, the average American will have had two or three years of a foreign language, most likely Spanish. They won't be able to converse, but they can ask how to find a bathroom, and likely provide a response if someone asks them. Hell, I took *German* in high school, and I can still tell when someone is asking 'Where is the bathroom?' in Spanish or French, because I've overheard enough to make sense of simple phrases like that. I am not uncommon in this regard.

Try asking, in English, 'Where is the bathroom?' in Japan. Most people will have no idea what you are saying. This, despite having three times the practice of American students, in English, GUARANTEED by the Ministry of Education.

This is pretty pathetic. It's not that I think that all Japanese should speak English or anything, but that for each student to emerge from school with such limited capability after SIX YEARS of education is, to my way of thinking, asinine. This isn't because the students are dumb, either; it's because English is taught as a bunch of disjointed concepts to memorize, rather than a language.

one wonders... (4, Insightful)

versiondub (694793) | more than 8 years ago | (#14119663)

The full scope and scale of this technology in the years to come. I'm a first year chinese student at Vassar College, with the full intention of becoming fluent - will learning a second language become useless and a waste of time when this technology improves to such a point that people will be able to speak quickly and naturally in their native tongue and have everyone else understand them with the help of a simple computer?

Re:one wonders... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14119935)

You're learning a foreign language for all the wrong reasons if you're worried about this. Even if technology can create perfect translations, the joy of understanding it yourself can't be replicated.

Re:one wonders... (2, Insightful)

retrosteve (77918) | more than 8 years ago | (#14119971)

Wonder away, Vassar Chinese Student, but get your language credentials for sure. This technology will not be useful in everyday conversation anytime in the next 15 years.

If you don't believe me, look at what it's made of:

1. Mechanical language translation (read any article through Babelfish to see how clear and comprehensible these currently are)
2. Voice recognition software (there's a reason it's been around for over 10 years and hasn't caught on yet except in niche applications)
3. Text-to-speech software (see 2)

So I confidently predict that by the time these "simple computers" make your Chinese education obsolete, you will have already made your career, probably be on your second career, and possibly be near retirement.

The first two technologies especially are easy to get working at 80%, but each percentage point after that requires much harder problem-solving and bigger databases and processing power. It just doesn't get easier.

Re:one wonders... (1)

puto (533470) | more than 8 years ago | (#14120468)

A few things from someone who learned another languager later in life.

If you want to really learn another language. Well, get a certificate, and take for two years, not six weeks, or even one year, and teach English as a second language. Well, a year and a half perhaps.

1. Do not hang around with other Americans in whatever country you choose.
2. Do not hang around with only the wealthy, uni students or local politicos. This is what usually happens. But make friends with all walks of life. Cabbies, the girl in the internet cafe, etc.
3. If you can go to a place that is not crawling with fellow English speakers.
4. A large of supply of post it notes to paper everything you own with the equivalent vocab.
5. And get a girlfriend/boyfriend whereever that be.
6. And never be afraid to speak.

Of course, dictionaries and grammar books, but do not neglect little kid see spot run books as well that each language. A great way to start.

Teaching English in the country whose language of which you wish to learn will give you great insight, grammar, structure, in not only the new language, but will actually improve your english. Students will not hesitate to call you out, and you will have to explain why.

I went to Colombia(which is known for pure Spanish, even the Spaniards say so) and taught two years before I went to college.

When I came home and went to school, I was able to in the course of two weeks, roll through 42(14 courses) hours of clep tests for credit. I had to jump through hoops, prove I was not a native speaker. But finally after a blow out with a Spanish 101 teacher who wanted to flunk me for not showing up for tests, and a meeting with a department head, I was given the chance.

This experience gave me a greater knowledge and understanding of the culture and language than any uni course.

That is why I cringe when someone says one of the following :
1. I had four years of it in college and I used to speak it, but now can not remember a thing.
2. Dude, we are going to Mexico for six weeks. Cerveza, chica do not a language make.

So, if I were you, consider a six month sabbatical in some foreign land after you have learned a bit of grammar and to speak it.

Also, remember this, facial expressions and hand gestures are all things that computers can not do. These you will have to learn.

Also, might get you chick to be who is the hotness like mine. I met her in the grocery store. Took five dates for her to give up that she was a system engineer who started out as a Cobol programmer, then an AIX admin, just an all around Unix guru. She did not want me to know she was a nerd.
<URL :http://nptdesigns.com/fotos/nancy2.jpg/>

And after 2 years together, and three more on and off, we have decided to get married. Note that picture was taken when whe was 33 years old. She still looks 25.

Puto

We will regret this. (3, Funny)

Silverlancer (786390) | more than 8 years ago | (#14119666)

The day people will regret the Talkman existing is the day that someone takes it and attempt to translate anime with it.

Hell that might actually be pretty funny...

Re:We will regret this. (1)

zalas (682627) | more than 8 years ago | (#14120626)

Sure beats fansubs being translated from a Babelfished erroneous transcript by someone who doesn't understand Japanese.

Oh crap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14119674)

One more reason for people to go extinct :) - The Voluntary Human Extinction Movement http://www.vhemt.org/ [vhemt.org]

PSP Talkman Translator (0, Troll)

phunster (701222) | more than 8 years ago | (#14119698)

Some time ago I worked for IBM, they came out with an application that had you talk into a microphone and it would type what you said. A bunch of us sat around one afternoon trying to get it to type negative things about IBM, it wouldn't. I actually have some level of trust of IBM, after the recent mis-adventures of the Sony Corporation I would not trust them to translate a rest room sign for me.

Re:PSP Talkman Translator (1)

Ceriel Nosforit (682174) | more than 8 years ago | (#14120122)

I call BS on this one. The code needed to remove negative things about something would be at least as complex as the speech recognition software.

It's more useful to listen... (1)

BucksCountyCycleGeek (893639) | more than 8 years ago | (#14119846)

and it seems that this machine is kind of like a *very* consumer-level Phraselator [phraselator.com], a Windows Mobile program that the military has been using to some success in Iraq and Afghanistan. Much better to have a $1,000 device than pay somebody $500 a day for dubious results.

I'd say that the Phraselator folks have little to be worried about because the PDA-type interface - although clunky for games - seems well suited to finding what you desire to communicate. The talking duck seems like it's both inflexible to new modules and could get annoying really, really fast.

The greater issue is that while these devices smooth your ability to *communicate your desires*, I've found in my experience that an ability to *understand others* is more sorely needed. It's easy to make the appropriate expression/point to what you want.

It would be best if someone could develop a device you could hold up or take a picture of text. Then you would push the "Translate" button and get results. A neat feature would be the "literal translation" or "nouns/verbs only mode". That way you would be able to get the gist of what someone is yelling at you instead of allowing the machine to go down crazy logic paths.

Re:It's more useful to listen... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14120259)

a Windows Mobile program that the military has been using to some success in Iraq and Afghanistan

and you are still wondering why there are all these suicide bombers? How do you think the translation comes out in Arabic? (hint: goatse.cx is best not mentioned in polite Arabic conversation)

Further Evidence (1)

mordors9 (665662) | more than 8 years ago | (#14119854)

that everything human beings need to know was created on Star Trek. Remember the Universal Translator they carried with them.

Nice Affiliate Link in There (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14120029)

Well I bet someone makes alot of money today lsaid=# is the affiliate variable in that link which is on the front page of slashdot.

How well does it work? (1)

NVP_Radical_Dreamer (925080) | more than 8 years ago | (#14120229)

I wonder how well this really works. For example, babel fish has trouble with the translation of some text which is for the most part exact information. But throw in audio and try to translate it? I think we have quite a way to go in order to make this a viable product. But then again, I could be wrong

Re:How well does it work? (2, Informative)

Bottlemaster (449635) | more than 8 years ago | (#14120335)

I wonder how well this really works. For example, babel fish has trouble with the translation of some text which is for the most part exact information. But throw in audio and try to translate it? I think we have quite a way to go in order to make this a viable product. But then again, I could be wrong


I use babelfish always, none of foreignors I to transmit are times when what trouble says me is found. If it possesses the trouble of babelfish, being not to know the method at all of speaking English perhaps it is. If the SONY people in Systran are anywhere in the vicinity of skill standard of the programmer and the language scholar, trouble the fact that speech recognition and translation, and speech formation are connected to one a little PSP disk should not possess.

UT (0, Redundant)

FluffyCow (918580) | more than 8 years ago | (#14120417)

This sounds like a really simple version of the Universal Translator..so when do I get mine in my combadge so I can understand spoken Klingon and Romulan?
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