The advent of cloud based computing, coupled with the rise of the online job marketplace has truly brought the world to your doorstep. A programmer from Asia can easily collaborate with an employer from Europe, separated only by a few clicks of the mouse. Just take a look at the international makeup of oDesk: a quick perusal of mobile app programmers shows workers based in 25+ countries — and that’s just one skill category.
The ability to network with colleagues around the world is exciting, but not without its challenges. Both cultural and language barriers can easily create misunderstanding and frustrations. While there’s not much in the way of iPhone apps to help you with the intricacies of cross-cultural communication (for some good reading on this topic, check out CindyKing’sinternationalbusinessblog), there are plenty of translation tools to help smooth the way.
Here’s a rundown of six of them:
● GoogleTranslate, BingTranslate & YahooBabelfish: All three of the major search engines have their own translation tools. Google’s can currently handle 57 major languages, plus provide an audio version of short texts. Bing offers translation for 35 languages as well as a similar audio feature. (Though I, personally, found Bing’s audio very hard to understand.) Handling only 13 languages, Yahoo’s Babelfish provides a straightforward interface but not many extra features. All three of the translators can either deal with chunks of text that you paste into a window, or can be used to translate a web page by entering its URL. The cost of all this translation work? Free.
● Gmail:Another no-cost service from Google, Gmail provides automatic translation of e-mails as they arrive in your inbox. When you receive a message in one of Google’s 57 supported languages, Gmail puts a header at the top of the e-mail that says Translate Message. Click it, and the missive will be translated inline, nothing else needed.
This list is by no means exhaustive, but the information above should give you a start in finding some useful translation tools for your next project. The world is at your doorstep; time to start communicating! If you’ve tried these tools, let us know what you think of them in the comments below!