Lost in Translation No More

I’ll have to admit, the latest translation tools available on the Internet and mobile devices are looking quite impressive. Within the last year, some notable web and mobile translator apps have come forward with new and innovative features. 

Last year, Google upgraded its Translate web service to include real-time translation while you type. Clicking on sound icons will “speak” the words and phrases via a computerized voice. In December, QuestVisual released Word Lens, an iPhone app that uses the mobile device’s video camera to instantly translate words from one language to another. The Word Lens introductory video kept jaw-dropped viewers in awe for days.

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Should you hire a new translator?

At a recent meeting with a local Latino advisory group, I had the privilege of listening to a presentation by Carlos Pava, director of Voices for Health, a Grand Rapids, Michigan based translation service provider. Voices for Health serves many clients but specializes in the health care industry.

As Carlos presented Voices for Health’s list of capabilities, he explained the process used for screening translation candidates. On occasion, Voices for Health may reject a candidate based on lack of linguistic skills or knowledge of meaning between languages. Even candidates that are native, life-long speakers of a language can be rejected. The truth is, just because someone is a native speaker of Spanish or is of Latin-American heritage does not make him or her an automatic bridge to Latino culture.

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