I just read an article that introduced me to a wild new thing: a Google Chat Chinese translation bot. What in the world is a translation bot?! I didn’t know either.
If you use Google Talk (which could be the chat program built in to Gmail or the stand-alone application), you can add a “friend” to your chat contacts named:
It’s actually not a person at all, but some sort of robot (hence the name) that will reply to any English text you send it with a Chinese translation. You don’t actually get to “chat” with it, it’s just an instant translation machine. Of course, it’s not perfect, but it does a pretty good job. Here are some examples:
I sent: “hello, what is this?”
Bot replied with: “您好，这是什么?”
I sent: “shanghai is an interesting city”
Bot replied with: “上海是一个很有意思的城市”
I sent: “see ya later!”
Bot replied with: “见雅稍后!”
Ok, so that last one didn’t work very well. But the other two came out pretty well (and oh so polite!).
I don’t think this is an especially useful tool for learning Chinese, I just thought it was cool. Imagine the possibilities for the future if this technology keeps progressing. We’re not too far off from two people who speak two different languages being able to chat with each other. Bots like this could be a kind of middle-man translating everything for each party before it reaches their respective screens. Maybe I should start thinking about another profession.