When you’re in a serious relationship with someone whose native language is different than yours, you tend to spend a lot of time losing patience with language learning programs and translation tools – after you’ve finished beating yourself up for not having studied more in grade school and college. Then a new discovery resurrects hope of fluency. Or a substitute. My latest exciting find: Babelverse.
Babelverse mobile app summons a live interpreter to translate spoken language as if standing right next to you. The website reads, “We aim to do to language barriers what the aeroplane did to geographical barriers.” Real-time, live translators? Really? Thank you.
What You Get
Over the phone, via Internet, or by calling a phone number (the equivalent of making a local call), Babelverse connects you with a living, breathing, human interpreter. Depending on the demands of the situation – for example, casual dinner conversation or million-dollar business negotiation – users choose an interpreter from one of three categories: Trainee Enthusiast, Skilled Enthusiast, or Professionals.
A trainee’s help is free of charge. If decoding your linguistic challenge requires advanced skills, rates increase to match the credentials of your translator. Babelverse interpreters earn 70% of their per minute interpretation fee, (rates are established by Babelverse, according to language pairings and costs of living for the interpreter).
It’s a lovely dream – the dream to be able to communicate with anyone, anywhere. Co-founders Mayel de Borniol and Josef Dunne envision Babelverse making the dream come true by signing up millions of multilingual members. Enough speakers in enough different languages, and in theory anyway, you might achieve on-demand interpretation instantaneously at a very affordable price.
Bottom line: no program can render tone, context, cultural values, and emotion from one language to the next flawlessly. Our noggin remains the only computer that stands a chance. And when it fails us, as it so often does, wouldn’t it be handy to have an interpreter nearby? Beside parting with a hefty 30% portion of earnings, interpreters can work from home, and choose hours and clients as they like. The Babelverse app might also be a great way for translators to build a resume.
Speed Is Key
While everyone is racing to mobile, it makes a lot of sense for translation. When the police man barks something at you that you can’t understand? When you urgently need to communicate something to a doctor? Flipping through the dictionary hardly helps in these situations. Only a speedy translator will suffice.
Slow old me usually double checks my mangled phrases using Google translate. This works reasonably well, but often misses nuances – especially when translating speech. Babelverse could eliminate a lot of awkward mistakes. (Though I admit, as some one who works with words all day, it cheers me that human communication can’t be mastered completely by the machines – even though my relationship suffers for it from time to time.)
Can We Quit Studying Now?
No. My attempts to recast bawdy humor into Spanish have nearly caused me bodily harm on a numerous occasions, but the joke is DOA if I can’t do the talking. And enlisting an interpreter to whisper sweet nothings in bed doesn’t sound like such a hot idea either. For intimacy to be intimate, we’re still going to have to hit the books and wire our brain for multilingualism.
But for less private moments, when our tie gets tongues…
Babelverse | Flickr | Flickr