Google translate was used to hold multi-lingual debates and discussions online in real time across the world.  English, Arabic, Chinese, Portuguese, Persian, Indonesian and Spanish were all supported.

The translations were far from perfect in places, but Chewy Trewhella, Google’s new business development manager, said, “It’s about trying to get the message across… [users] are happy with 80-90% effectiveness.”

Geoffrey Bowden, general secretary of the Association of Translation Companies (ATC), said he was not worried that machine translation would put his members’ jobs at risk. “It may be the translator becomes more of an editor. I think we’ve got a long, long way to go.”

Discussions (and their translations) can be seen at http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/superpower/spn.shtml

See: BBC News