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Don’t bother learning a foreign language! Skype will soon translate spoken foreign words in real time

The days of awkwardly trying to wing your way in a foreign language could soon be over. Microsoft has unveiled their new Skype Translator technology that they say can decode languages in real-time. It means that during video calls the speech recognition software will allow two callers from different countries to talk with ease.

Microsoft first unveiled the technology two years ago. At the time, though, it was deemed too inaccurate to release to the general public. But a recent breakthrough by the Skype and Microsoft Translator teams in neural network-based speech recognition has reduced errors in speech recognition by more than 30 per cent. Now Skype Translator could allow people who normally wouldn’t be able to understand one another to communicate.

Skype Translator is a spin-off of the technology behind Microsoft’s Siri clone called Cortana, the personal voice assistant on Windows Phones. In a demo, Microsofts show a conversation with real-time audio translation between and English and German speakers using Skype Translator. The foreign language is converted into subtitles for the other person, and then spoken aloud by a chosen voice.

The quick translations allow for a back and forth conversation even though the two don’t speak the same language. Microsoft, however, say it is still early days for the technology ‘but the Star Trek vision for the universal translator’ isn’t a galaxy away.’ By the end of 2014 Skype Translator will be available as a Windows 8.1 beta app, although no news on when a full release will be brought to other platforms has yet been announced.


to bother doing something – vesződik valamivel
awkwardly – ügyetlenül, bénázva
to wing – improvizálni
in real-time – valós időben
speech recognition – beszédfelismerés
to unveil – leleplezni
inaccurate – pontatlan
the general public – a nagyközönség
to reduce – csökkenteni
spin-off – folytatás (eredetileg filmsorozat alapján készült újabb sorozat)
subtitles – felirat
to allow for – lehetővé tesz valamit
even though – annak ellenére, hogy
app (application) – alkalmazás
full release – teljes kiadás

Match the words with their opposites.

1. inaccurate

a) to prevent from

2. to unveil

b) to increase

3. to allow for

c) exact

4. to reduce

d) skilfully

5. awkwardly

e) to conceal

answers: 1-c 2-e 3-a 4-b 5-d

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