Translating the World, One Word at a Time

Anywhere you go and to anyone you talk, people will agree that there are many problems in the world in which we live. One of the biggest happens to be communication. I know that this sounds a bit far fetched but think about it. We are humans.

We are separated by insurmountable barriers that keep us from truly understanding each other. No matter we do,there are certain things that we can not explain to each other.

The Youtube channel Vsauce does a great job in describing this barrier in their video “Is Your Red The Same As My Red?”. As described in the video, there are certain Qualia that we can not explain. Something such as “Red” is an experience that you can only understand through firsthand experience. Trying to explain red to someone who has been blind their entire life will only really result in two frustrated parties. Similarly, it’s like watching a scene on TV and having someone try and explain a smell to you. Except you have never smelled anything in your life.

With problems like this, it is quite a feat that language was ever developed. Regardless, it was, which has lead to the many diverse tongues and dialects we see today. Every day, new words are created and conglomerated into additional expansions.

What was English yesterday is ever so slightly different then the entirety of English today. Sometimes these language barriers can get in the way of goals.

Whether it is social goals or corporate, language is as much a problem today as it is a cultural diversity. In order to break down those barriers, many people have come up with inventions to cross them. One of the most widely known and used language tool is that of Google Translate.

Since April of 2006, Google Translate has been helping to break the barrier between cultures. It was one of the first to be easily accessible to a public crowd and, on its’ 38th build (39th this coming june), it is still going strong. The app version can use the camera off of a phone to translate a small base of languages right on the text location with its integrated google lens. This feature only works with a limited number of languages at the moment but is extremely helpful for translating words or text on images on the go.

A new translator from skype though is slowly making its way up the chart. The new skype translator translates voice communication actively as the speaker is talking. The translation is sent to the receiver in real time. This means that two speakers can be that much closer to breaking down the small barriers holding us back in language that we still have.

Such developments could easily be ported into a headset to incorporate the language translation without hearing the untranslated words. It would be an interesting thing to live in a world that all spoke your language, whether that was with the help of translators or not.

What are the barriers in the world to you? Are there any in particular that stand out or do you feel that we have crossed as many of the bridges as we will be able to?

To really thrive as a species, communication is a barrier we will have to work to overcome. Regardless of the methods, at least companies like google and skype are helping us to start making those steps. I, and many others, can only hope that breaching these language barriers will act as a first step on the way to connecting us in new and exciting ways.

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