Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Language Help: iTranslate

I’m terrible at French. I murder it. Just about every unfortunate French person who has ever heard my lame attempts to speak the language visibly winces.

I think this is because my “other” language is Spanish, although it’s disappearing now that I don’t hear it every day. Spanish was taught the old way in my high school, not by conversation but by drills; written word to speech, over and over and over (and over). The result is that, when confronted with a written French word, I can’t pronounce it. My mind returns to the Spanish vowel and consonant sounds and stays there.  A true source of shame when trying to talk about perfumes by name, so many of which are French!

Recently, Perfume Shrine featured an article about the website Frag Name of the Day featuring an interview with its author, Bela. I’ve been a fan of that site for quite a while now. But since I got an iPhone a few months ago, I’ve discovered a translating app that seems pretty amazing, especially for quick, one-sentence things like “Where is the ladies room” and “Will you take less for that?” as well as complicated perfume names.

There are quite a few of these translating apps, and I haven’t tried many, but the one I’m playing with now is  “iTranslate Voice,” by Sonico GmbH. You speak into it — a word, phrase, or sentence in your own language after selecting the appropriate icon, and that of the language in which you want to hear the phrase spoken (currently 31 languages). Voila, out it comes, perfectly pronounced, with both lines of text in written form too! (There’s also a keyboard, but I haven’t tried it.) 

This is one of those apps that makes me feel like I really am living in The Future. I’m sure it has limitations. They all do. I hear that quite a few people have given up on Siri — my iPhone is a hand-me-down 3G and I don’t have it— but give ‘em time. 

In the meantime, I can think of many uses for this!

Not affiliated, honest.

I ordered this from the iTunes store. Current price is $1.99. Apparently it’s available for Android also.

Illustration from Engadget (www.engadget.com) courtesy of Google Images.


Anonymous said...

On sale in Australia $0.99. YAY! Thanks for the tip.
Portia xx

Olfacta said...

Hello Portia, hope it works for you!

brian said...

Recently, wandering around youtube, I found this video - a guy I've never heard of illustrating/inventorying his fragrance collection (these guys say fragrance, not perfume). Honestly,I prefer his pronunciation of French.


Olfacta said...

Hi Brian -- That video was hilarious. The guy sounds like a SoCal skater, and was so casual about his pronunciation! Did you see "Friends with Kids?" There a scene in which the main guy tells his friend that he dumped a date because she "over-pronounces French."
We get to see her do it, and she does!

Vanessa said...

I have the advantage of speaking French, but I am a slow texter, so Siri is a boon in theory. In practice though, it manages to mangle most of what I say *in English*, sometimes with hilarious results. (I keep saying I will write the more choice examples down...) Apparently it takes time to get used to the voice of its owner - not unlike a puppy, indeed.