The 5 Best Translation Apps

App Translation

The 5 Best Translation Apps

If you suddenly find yourself in Moscow but you don’t speak Russian, you could end up in quite a precarious situation for lack of Russian translation. After all, it is difficult to order a meal or find your way around if you don’t speak at least a bit of the language. Luckily, with these five translation apps, you can do everything from order a beer in peace to navigate the subway system without winding up in an old Soviet-era bunker. Let translation make your life just a little bit easier.

Google Translate

If you are in need of some translation help, you really can’t go wrong with Google Translate. Most agree that it is one of the best tools around, whether you are using it in app form or in mobile form. Though it does struggle with longer, more complicated sentences, it is pretty adept at translating short phrases, and it tends to beat out most other free translation services in comparison tests. An added bonus? It also is the most comprehensive app on our list. Want to translate something into Swahili? You got it. Yiddish? Not a problem. Quechua? Check. Basically, there isn’t a language this thing can’t translate.

Translation Pro: iOS

This easy-to-use app boasts a handy phrase-book style menu in addition to on-the-fly translation capabilities, boasting such categories as bargaining, ordering food and drink, travel, and even romance. The app boasts language capabilities for 50 languages, though only 11 of these languages are compatible with the phrase-book feature.

Translate Me

Type in a word, pick your target language, and translate. This convenient app boasts a swap feature (so if you are translating into Spanish, you can easily “swap” between the Spanish word and English word) and also saves your translation history, so you won’t have to look up the word for “restaurant” 27 different times. A lifesaver for sure.

Ask Ziggy

What to do if you find yourself stuck in the middle of Shanghai with limited Mandarin translation skills desperately trying to type out the word for “lost” on an online dictionary via your mobile phone with your left hand while precariously balancing six heavy bags of groceries on your right hand? Well, you ask Ziggy, of course. This unique translation app boasts a Siri-like interface so users can verbally dictate the phrases they would like translated. Ask Ziggy will then speak back the translation in the target language, as well as display a written translation on the screen. Available for iOS, Android, and Windows Phone, this app is an absolute must for all travelers.

Bing Translator: Windows Phone

The good news? Bing Translator for Windows Phone is without a doubt a top-notch free translation app. Potentially even the best on the market. It can process phrases for translation via the keyboard, camera, and voice recognition. The camera feature is especially handy. All you have to do is make sure the text is lined up correctly, and the app will overlay a translation over the source text.

It also boasts an offline pack for download that allows users to translate even without an Internet connection. Good news for all of you backpackers trekking through remote regions of the earth! The bad news? This app is only available for Windows Phone. iPhone and Android users will just have to hope a more comprehensive version comes out soon.

Chukchansi Language to Be Preserved through Apps and Games

As with all else in nature, languages were created, they evolved and in some cases, they are extinguished. Many languages have long been abandoned and yet we still have detailed knowledge on them even though no one speaks them on a daily basis – e.g. classical languages like Latin and ancient Greek.

Others, however, simply die out with the last speakers as new generations adopt a more widespread common language. It is a shame to see this happen, since language is our strongest link with our culture and history. There is much to be learned from old traditions and the cumulative wisdom of our forefathers, all of which are reflected in the dialect that was used to convey important ideas and ideals.

Holly Wyatt understands this, but she had to watch as the language of her tribe, the Chukchansi, slowly faded into obscurity as younger Chukchansi generations veered away from old traditions. For over 40 years now, Wyatt hasn’t had any real chance to speak the language of her ancestors nor to hear it spoken. Today, she sits in front of a large group of Chukchansi children, all of them being middle and high school students, eager to read the folk tales to them in the nearly forgotten language.

Technology allowing the preservation of languages

The students gathered at Fresno State and welcomed Wyatt, striving to bring back the language to the new generations using modern technology and making it both fun and easy to learn. The students have begun working on apps that would allow children to hear traditional Chukchansi folk tales in their original form. The education coordinator of the Picayune Rancheria of Chukchansi Indians, Kim Lawhon, herself a Chukchansi tribe member and a teacher at Coarsegold Elementary, has stated that: ”One of the projects we've wanted to do is increase Chukchansi literacy”.

The students of Fresno State and Coarsegold elementary are producing unique artwork that is to be featured in the design of the apps, while Holly Wyatt is providing the translation and even narrating. The technical aspects of the project are supervised by  Ogoki Learning Systems, a Canadian company which is focused on developing apps that allow tribes from across the country to learn their traditional languages.

Children taking matters into their hands and working on the project

Currently, there are only a handful of Chukchansi speakers among the tribe’s people and the children know more about exotic foreign languages and cultures than about their own language and culture. A 16 year old Evergreen Continuation High School student, Audrey Hammond, has lamented the fact that she understands Japanese better than the language of her tribe and wants to do all she can to help educate her people. “I hope to one day be fluent in the language. My heritage is who I am” Hammond said. As witnessed by the scope of the project and the number of volunteers, her views are shared by the rest of the Chukchansi youth.

The first of the ten apps is already available

The aim of the project is to create different apps based on classic tales from Chukchansi folklore and in the original language, so as to promote Chukchansi literacy amongst both children and adults. These tales were translated into English and published back in 1944, and Wyatt is now working on translating them back into Chukchansi.

There are ten apps currently in the works, scheduled to be completed within the next few weeks. They will take the form of e-books, complete with illustrations created by the students and games with various interactive elements. The first app that was completed is a storybook with Chukchansi captions and narration, following a series of illustrations.

Reviving old tribal languages is an ongoing effort that shows promise

Darrick Baxter, app developer and president of Ogoki Learning Systems, has stated that their goal was to create: ”something that is fun to play and that has the Chukchansi language in there”.  According to Baxter the main motivation behind such projects is to: “see different tribes revitalizing and using their language again”. The company has had some success so far and has garnered a lot of attention amongst the various tribes.

People, both young and old, are working together on preserving tradition and culture using modern tools to help preserve nearly forgotten languages. It is a noble cause that will, hopefully, produce some serious results.

Theaters' Innovative Translation App

A Welsh theater company has recently launched a smartphone app that will help theatergoers more easily follow along with plays in foreign languages. The app, known as Sibrwd (which translates to Whisper), was developed by the Welsh-language national theater, Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru, in an attempt to improve English-only speakers’ access to Welsh-language plays.

Though the Welsh language is the national language of Wales, only approximately 19 percent of the current population speaks the language, or roughly one in five citizens. And that number appears to be on the decline, down from 21 percent in 2001.

For Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru, that means it can be difficult to engage with the population. Prior to the development of the app, the company had experimented with the use of subtitles in its plays in order to ensure that English speakers in the audience could easily follow along. However, according to executive producer Carys Ifan, the subtitle experience was wholly unfulfilling. The app is “much more creative and more involved as part of the production,” Ifan recently told the BBC.

Theater Translation to iPhones

This innovative app provides audience members with English-language translations of key lines and also provides explanations of scenes. “It’s not a full translation. There are quite short sentences every now and again at key moments,” Ifan explained. “The idea is that people will take their own smartphone, download the app, and then they’ll hear things that we think they need to know to guide them through the play.”

Audience members will need to wear headphones in order to hear the English-language commentary.

The app was developed with the digital agency Galactig and will be first put into use in September with a play called “Chwalfa” in Bangor, Gwynedd. Prior to rollout, however, the app will be tested in the upcoming weeks during a performance of “Dyled Eileen.” The play, which is about the Welsh language campaigner Eileen Beasley, will be performed at the National Eisteddfod of Wales.

The BBC reports that the app was funded with a £41,000 grant by Digital R&D (Research and Development) Fund for the Arts in Wales. The fund is supported by Arts Council Wales, the Arts and Humanities Research Council, and Nesta, an innovation charity. Though the app will only provide English translations for this first play, there is hope to expand translation capabilities to other European languages. The company will take Sibrwd to a conference of minority European languages in Germany this upcoming October.

Improving Access to Theater

Ultimately, Ifan is optimistic that the app will expand access to the company’s work. “We want as many people as possible to access our work,” she said. “People will go and see an opera in French or Italian but wouldn’t think about going to see a Welsh language piece. So it’s trying to entice people to make that leap.”

And if the app proves to be successful, there is hope that it could be used around the world. The app is noted for its remarkable international applicability. Its developers, as well as the theater company, hope that it will one day help theatergoers around the world and break down the linguistic barriers that often bar access to plays.

Fruit Ninja company ready to expand abroad

Growing businesses must ensure that the right amount of time is devoted to creating a strong marketing campaign. Future customers need to understand the company message, along with the specific product or service being offered to them.

Successful Apps

Halfbrick Studios created the popular smartphone game Fruit Ninja, which challenges users to swipe their fingers across their screen to try and "slice" pieces of fruit before they fall back to the ground. As reported by Bloomberg Businessweek, Halfbrick has plans to release a version of its mobile game in China. To account for different customer tastes, the company created an application with different weapon choices and various backgrounds.

"A lot of foreign companies have this hubris that we are going to bring you this great product and you are going to love it," Mark Natkin, managing director of Marbridge Consulting Ltd., a market research firm in Beijing, told the news source. "It's a common mistake to think that localization means translation from English to Chinese and then you're done."

Large Chinese Markets

Phil Larsen, chief marketing officer for Halfbrick, told the news source that already, 30 percent of Fruit Ninja users are in China, so that is where the idea for a new strategy came from.

A similar mindset can be taken by companies in other industries. When the decision is made to expand into new markets, working with localization translation services will push an organization ahead of the competition.

Through translation services, more details will taken into account, beyond going from one language to another. That way, future customers can feel as if a product was designed with their needs and interests in mind.


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