Most online translators are pretty bad. They can translate words, but they usually wreak havoc on grammar and sentence structure. And don’t even think about translating slang or figures of speech. That’s why this demo of the translator that evangelism site NeedHim.org is testing is so impressive.
Last week I had the opportunity to participate in the Lausanne / Mission America break-out group on using the Internet to share our faith. In that session, Drew Dickens of NeedHim.org walked us through this demo of the ABBY translation tool they’re working to implement with their chat tool.
NeedHim.org is an evangelistic Christian site. People all over the world find the site and are given the opportunity to chat with a Christian about spiritual issues. For this to work, though, they’ve got to have good real-time translation capability. And it looks like they’re well on their way.
According to Drew, this is the same technology the government uses to monitor terrorist “chatter” around the world. It utilizes artificial intelligence and is able to distinguish between pseudonyms, understand slang, and translate figures of speech.
The demo below doesn’t have sound. (We had the benefit of Drew talking us through it, which was a big help.) As you watch the demo, the left side of the screen is what someone of another language would see. The right side is what a NeedHim.org volunteer would see. In the demo, Drew types a message into the volunteer side, and then copies the translation the visitor would see back into their chat, so you can see in English the way the translator handles errors in grammar, slang, and figures of speech.
In the last part, it shows the translator can even take a verse from the King James translation of the bible, translate it into Chinese characters, and then when the Chinese characters are translated back into English you see it’s in modern English.
It’s an amazing leap forward in translation technology and pretty cool that it’s being used to engage with people and help communicate the gospel to people around the world.
Pretty cool, huh?