As a languages teacher I'm actually at a loss as to what I think about it. At first I thought it could be a fun kind of application. As it is an companion to an IM client it is obviously not going to required to translate a huge amount of text. So for maybe a business person in a rush to communicate with a colleague overseas this could be a useful tool. The user types in their own language and apparently seconds later the interlocutor sees the translation in their own language. (English, Spanish and simplified Chinese currently available.)
The interesting bit is that human translators are also used along with HAL (Human Assisted Language) (2001: A Space Odessy, anyone)
However as an MFL teacher I am obviously wary of any kind of translating machine. No machine can ever replicate the humanity of language. Words often have multiple meanings which sometimes require an understanding of nuance to translate. I suppose the creators of SpeakLike have realised this and added the extra buzz of human translators, but this is bound to slow down the whole process and it would no longer be quite like IM (INSTANT messaging.)
This application came hard on the heels of VOXONIC which has apparently developed some proprietary software which can replicate a person's voice in ANY(!!!!!) language. Apparently from a fifteen minute sample of you speaking they can present you saying whatever you want in any language...without more info (or maybe more brains on my part)I can't see how this would give a good translation, I just keep thinking about Peter Sellers in the Pink Panther films "Deu yeu 'ave a reum? etc. Some rapper (Prodigy from Mobb Deep) has decided to release his latest album in 14,000 languages using this software.
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