Skype Now With Live Translation

In this day and age of the popularity of instant messaging, email, Internet telephony, and videoconferencing as tools for business communication, dealing with people across seas and borders is just as fast as popping up at a colleague’s room or cubicle asking for those updated sales figures or the latest rumours on Google or Apple (or perhaps the latest TomKat scoop?). Technology has helped make the world become a smaller place. However, this does not necessarily follow culture-wise. Unlike chatting up your next-door neighbor across the fence, talking to someone at the other side of the globe might be a bit more difficult given language differences.

Simply put, not everyone else in the world can speak your language, nor is everyone always willing (nor readily able) to suddenly adapt overnight just to accommodate you. And I’d tend to think this is a mutual thing–you probably won’t think it’s convenient to learn Cantonese or Hmong at five minutes’ notice, would you? Nor would it be practical to start learning a foreign language just so you can converse with a friend for 30 minutes.

Skype probably realized that majority of its clients aren’t interested in chatting up the next-door neighbor or friends from the next city through its facilities–in most cases, local phone calls would be cheaper! VoIP users are likely those looking into savings from over-seas or long-distance calls.

Here’s where translation services would come in handy. Have you ever watched televised U.N. meetings and wondered how everyone seems to understand what everyone else was saying even through diverse languages (probably at surface level, and not necessarily with a deep comprehension, or at least that’s what I think)? Of course, it’s because of those earpieces the delegates wear, which are connected to (reportedly highly-paid) teams of translators on the other end, ready to translate across various languages as required.

Having correspondents across the globe would inevitably result in such a situation in which you just can’t understand what the person on the other end is saying. And this could be during a make-or-break situation, where you need to base business decisions based on information you gather (say, you’re talking to a supplier of raw materials, a prospective client, or something to that effect). Or, perhaps you have newfound friends abroad and you would like to chat through VoIP, but your friend’s not as great with speaking your language as she is at writing. Or, maybe you’ve just met a cute guy (or girl) but things can’t get past that first “hello,” because everything else is Greek to you.

Skype just made live translation more accessible, with its Language Line Personal Interpreter Service.

Whether for business or personal use, our â??Personal Interpreterâ? pay-as-you-go service allows quick and easy access highly skilled & certified interpreters in more than 150 languages directly from your Skype phone, for only $2.99 USD per minute. Service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

Great, so you won’t have to personally hire translators, which may turn out to be quite expensive if done on a contract basis but for short-term needs. Skype even lets you use the translator service when you’re not conneceted to anyone via SkypeOut. You can have a friend standing right next to you, and Skype can translate, for as long as you’re connected to the translator service via SkypeOut.

The service initially seems quite expensive, at US$ 2.99 per minute, but I don’t think you’d be making hour-long phone calls with the service, anyway. And if you were to rely on translation services more heavily, and on a longer-term basis, then you’re better off hiring a translator yourself.

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