The Internet has become the ultimate medium for communication amongst humans. When it first began, websites were predominantly written in English, but over time all the major languages in the world have voiced themselves to their fellow tongued colleagues and brethren. There is a new technology on the Internet that although in its early development, could revolutionalize communication on our planet: Universal translation software.
If you've read 'Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy' you'll recall the science-fiction idea of the Babel fish. You take a small fish and put it in your ear and then automatically you can understand any language in the whole Universe in your own tongue. Pretty unbelievable stuff huh! But now on the Web there are numerous sites that are turning this dream into a reality. One of the main sites is http://world.altavista.com/tr where they actually call their service 'Babel fish Translation'.
There are two main options on this site that you can try out for free. The first is to insert 500 words at a time in your native language, choose the language you want to interpret to, and push the 'translate' button. For example, say you've met a French person through a website dedicated to healthy living and you want to send them your recipe for Grandma's famous vegetarian soup, but you speak English. Just push the English-French option, paste the recipe in, and in a few seconds, wow, it's right in front of you ready to send in French! Now don't get me wrong, this concept is in its infancy so the language is far from a perfect grammatical interpretation, however it will definitely get the main ideas across to this person who otherwise you wouldn't have been able to communicate with. If you were in the same town or city you could use body language, or see each other a webcam, but I think it would look a little strange watching someone miming out the actions of how to chop up a carrot!
The second option is for translating a whole website. Say you've got a website for your e-commerce business exporting a new kind of deodorant, but in this instance you are a French person (a country know for its fine scents) and you would like to enter the Japanese online market as you are well aware that they have a strong stigma against body odor. Well, just click on French-Japanese, put in your web address, and in a few seconds, bang, the whole site has been interpreted into Japanese. You can then add a Ja/ at the end of your address thus making a whole new website just for Japanese speaking people. To do this you may have to download a Japanese language pack from your computer but that shouldn't be much of a problem
Some people may complain that your language is bad, or get some misinterpretations of ideas because of the newness of this technology, but I do think it can be very useful. You can have some contact with people and information that otherwise may have been totally impossible before. When the concept is evolved further, as is the case with all worthwhile technological additions to human society, I believe the results will be spectacular.
Imagine anyone and everyone being able to connect and read each other's ideas and information. Humanity could reach a level of understanding and appreciation of each other's differences that then could have huge effects that resound across perceived boundaries bringing everyone much closer together. Hey, maybe one day we could all realize that we are all human beings, all individuals, and all from the same place: Earth.
Jesse S. Somer
Jesse S. Somer speaks English, is learning to speak Japanese, knows a few bits of several other languages, but most of all speaks Human.