Skype Instant Translation

January 19, 2015 7:23 pm

On October the 2nd we, among other new trainees of the European Parliament and Commission, were invited to a tour in Bruxelles for a formal presentation of the institutions. The visit included many meetings and conferences. With our surprise, one of the spokesmen on the stage was a Microsoft Executive, come to illustrate some of the latest news about Microsoft’s software. At first sight, his presence wasn’t justified, but after a brief introduction we understood that the speech was going to be interesting and fitting. In 2011 Microsoft acquired Skype, the Estonian company who invented an application that provides via-internet voice calls and chat for computers, tablets and other devices. Recently, Microsoft announced a new feature of the application: a near real-time translation whose purpose is to connect furthermore the 600 million users of the platform. The spokesman illustrated company’s privacy policies, the touchy subject of the storing of the data (NSA scandal was still fresh in the memory), and had time to answer the consistent questions of the trainees, many of which were personally interested in the matter, as interpreters, translators, or simply open-minded, cosmopolitan and well prepared students. The topic puzzled professional translators but teased informatics fans. And of course, it created a lot of buzzing on the net.

The new Skype Instant Translation is also analysed in the article “The battle of the translators: man vs machine” by Ofer Shoshan, which we include as link at the end of the post. Ofer, CEO of One Hour Translation, a large translation agency, speaks about Skype’s future. Will Microsoft-Skype expand its business and clientele? Will translators be substitute by machines? The article is worth reading. It’s very funny, it provides meaningful examples, and its conclusion is that Skype automatic translator, as well as Google’s, will get better in time. “But it has a long way to go to match the level of accuracy, creativity and flair for language of a professional human translator.”


By Matteo Poles

Social Media Specialist

Communication Trainee at TermCoord

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