One year into the second decade of the millennium, translation technology seems to have a promising future. From new smartphone apps to newly discovered languages, here’s a recap of language-related news in 2010. Enjoy!
January: British newspapers announce a sharp drop in foreign language instruction for teenagers. Only 40% of schools identified that more than half their students were learning a foreign language, down from 45% the previous year.
February: The death of Boa Sr is announced in early February; she was the last fluent speaker of the Bo language (located in the Andaman Islands).
March: Google Chrome Beta offers instant site translation in 52 languages through Google Translate.
April: In response to China’s April 14 earthquake (magnitude: 6.9) in Qinghai, 200,000 books about quake relief are translated into Tibetan and donated to those affected by the disaster.
May: Google Goggles offers image translation, to help people understand what signs or instructions are saying.
June: The iPhone 4 is launched. The new phone is compatible with Braille keyboards.
July: An Australian cave tour is now offered in Klingon, the language created for the science fiction TV and movie series, Star Trek.
September: A claim that many Army interpreters in Afghanistan didn’t pass language proficiency tests stirs up the media.
October: In Northern India, linguists discover a formerly unknown language, which is called Koro.
November: South Africa’s Sunday Times is the first national newspaper to print in the Zulu language—the first Zulu issue was distributed Nov. 7.
December: A new iPhone app takes center stage, featuring direct translation of signs and other short texts. Unlike previous instantaneous translators, Word Lens keeps the sign’s formatting and colors, simply inserting the translation in the place of the original text.
We barely have a week left until 2011! I, for one, am looking forward to seeing what linguists and engineers will do next…