Home → Magazine Archive → March 2020 (Vol. 63, No. 3) → Across the Language Barrier → Abstract

Across the Language Barrier

By Keith Kirkpatrick

Communications of the ACM, Vol. 63 No. 3, Pages 15-17

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The greatest obstacle to international understanding is the barrier of language," wrote British scholar and author Christopher Dawson in November 1957, believing that relying on live, human translators to accurately capture and reflect a speaker's meaning, inflection, and emotion was too great of a challenge to overcome. More than 60 years later, Dawson's theory may finally be proven outdated, thanks to the development of powerful, portable real-time translation devices.

The convergence of natural language processing technology, machine learning algorithms, and powerful portable chipsets has led to the development of new devices and applications that allow real-time, two-way translation of speech and text. Language translation devices are capable of listening to an audio source in one language, translating what is being said into another language, and then translating a response back into the original language.


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