Your thoughts on Skype Translator
Thread poster: naiaraz

Local time: 03:30
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Jun 6, 2014


I'd like to know what are your thoughts about Skype Translator. Some people are saying it is announcing the end of translators and interpreters.


Jan Willem van Dormolen  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:30
English to Dutch
+ ...
No way Jun 6, 2014

That demonstration was highly scripted. They used sentences that they knew would work.
Think about it: the best MT to date is Google Translate, and we all know what that is worth. Skype Translate can, of course, never be better than the best MT, combined with the best speech recognition (which is not at 100% either yet) and the best text-to-speech-engine (same).
Our job is safe.


LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:30
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
See the discussion here: Jun 6, 2014

[Edited at 2014-06-06 12:49 GMT]


Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:30
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
I would never use it to talk to anyone important Jun 6, 2014

It can just about cope with polite standard remarks, but it would be hopeless as soon as you started serious business negotiations, diplomacy...
Anything requiring cultural understanding would also be a disaster.

Just a tiny example: Danish does not have a word for 'please', which is an absolute must in many situations in English.
Danes have their ways - from saying 'thank you' an extra time, to special tones of voice and particular phrases - of being polite and persuasive. They are far too complicated for this thing, and that is just for starters!

One of these phrases translates word for word as something like 'Couldn't you be bothered to ... '
Which in fact is NOT polite in English.

The tones of voice would be lost altogether.

It would be impossible to know when to take people seriously and when to shrug off insults as mistranslations!

I don't believe the theory that the more languages are pumped into the machine, the better it will work in all of them. Maybe in closely related languages, but just in the handful of closely related languages I know - the Scandinavian three, various shades of English, and a smattering of French and German - there are enough false friends to trigger off several diplomatic crises... and an awful lot of misunderstandings.

Computers are not INTELLIGENT.
When computer geeks talk of 'neural networks', they are talking about something like the system of motorways and tarmac roads in a town.
Meanwhile the human brain goes happily off along all the little back alleys, footpaths and country lanes, and inside the houses - all the places cars can never come. The real, biological neural network is far more fine-meshed and more complex than any digital one.

Humans can find their way back to the motorway when they want to.
But they spend most of their time off the road.

I love Star Trek, but it IS a fairy tale!


Terence Noonan  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:30
German to English
+ ...
Nothing short of true artificial intelligence can replace translators and interpreters Jun 6, 2014

And when that day comes, we will be far from the only ones standing in the breadline.


Michael Marcoux  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:30
Russian to English
+ ...
And by that time... Nov 5, 2014

...machines will have taken over so much that I doubt we'll HAVE to work to make ends meet. So being made redundant will not be the end of the world.

Speaking of other professions that are ostensibly being made redundant, did anyone else hear about how they used a 3D printer to build 10 homes in China recently?


neilmac  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:30
Spanish to English
+ ...
Hear hear Nov 8, 2014

Christine Andersen wrote: would be hopeless as soon as you started serious business negotiations, diplomacy...
Anything requiring cultural understanding would also be a disaster.
I love Star Trek, but it IS a fairy tale!

Well said Christine, I wholeheartedly agree with your entire post. And Skype translate is a non-starter.

[Edited at 2014-11-08 10:58 GMT]


Phil Hand  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:30
Chinese to English
The Skype thing will help AI/MT, but this is not where the action is Nov 8, 2014

Putting this device out there will help the MT to develop a bit, because it will gain access to a whole load more (spoken) texts, which it can mine for data.

But Terence is exactly right. It will take AI to replace translators, and AI isn't going to happen in the MT field, because MT researchers are looking at completely the wrong thing. They are still trying to process texts, rather than locate the meaning in texts.

When it comes, the breakthrough will be in something like fact-checking software. The internet is home to massive repositories of facts, and the ability to check natural language references against archived facts will be (a) very useful and (b) possible to develop incrementally. Basically, the kind of thing they achieved with Watson, the computer than won Jeopardy. That's a computer finding meaning in language, rather than attempting to juggle text. Once they can get Watson doing something a bit more useful with its language capabilities, then we're really talking about effective AI.


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:

You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

Your thoughts on Skype Translator

Advanced search

Wordfast Pro
Translation Memory Software for Any Platform

Exclusive discount for users! Save over 13% when purchasing Wordfast Pro through Wordfast is the world's #1 provider of platform-independent Translation Memory software. Consistently ranked the most user-friendly and highest value

More info »
PerfectIt consistency checker
Faster Checking, Greater Accuracy

PerfectIt helps deliver error-free documents. It improves consistency, ensures quality and helps to enforce style guides. It’s a powerful tool for pro users, and comes with the assurance of a 30-day money back guarantee.

More info »

  • All of
  • Term search
  • Jobs
  • Forums
  • Multiple search