New spoken and instant messaging languages added to Skype Translator

Rebecca Gibson
Rebecca Gibson
By Rebecca Gibson on 09 April 2015
New spoken and instant messaging languages added to Skype Translator

Microsoft has added two more spoken languages and five additional instant messaging languages to Skype Translator in an effort to facilitate more natural conversations between users.

Skype Translator, which was launched in preview in December 2014, now offers Mandarin and Italian as spoken languages, as well as English and Spanish.

Mandarin is widely regarded as one of the most challenging languages for a native English speaker to learn because it has around 10,000 characters and multiple tones. Microsoft researchers and scientists at its labs in Beijing, China, worked with a US-based team to build the necessary recognition, language and translation models for Mandarin.

“At Skype, we want to make it easier for you to connect with people around the world, no matter where you are and what language you speak,” said Yasmin Khan, Skype product marketing at Microsoft, in a blog post. “In 2012, our team of researchers unveiled the first demonstration of a speech translation system and since then, the team has invested years of hard work, dedication and enthusiasm to make this language in Skype Translator a reality today.”

Microsoft has also updated the existing version of Skype Translator to facilitate a more natural conversation between people when using Skype Translator.

Based on feedback from users, Microsoft has now added functionality to allow text to be translated while the person is speaking and enable users to mute the translated voice and instead read a transcript.

Meanwhile, the automatic volume control feature enables the listener to hear a real-time translation at full volume while the speaker’s voice will be played at a much lower volume. This allows the speaker to continue talking during the translation, making the conversation more fluid.

In addition, users can now hear their instant messages in the language of their choice. This inlcudes Serbian, Bosnian, Croatian, Maya and Otomi, which have been added to the list of more than 40 instant messaging languages already available.

“Today, we meet another chapter for Skype Translator on our journey to enrich the way we communicate with family and friends around the world,” said Khan. “Our long-term goal is to translate as many languages as possible on all relevant platforms, and deliver the best Skype Translator experience for our more than 300 million connected customers.”

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