I always remember a scene from Saving Private Ryan, in the lull between the action on the beaches and the finale, where US Captain Miller (Tom Hanks) needs to communicate with some German soldiers. Despite not speaking of word of each others language, both sides get the point across using a mixture of gestures and references to early Disney films.
Try doing this 'keine-Deutsch' approach over the phone. Google Translate, is currently best in it's text not voice form; Even so, it takes us humans a while to learn how to best use the available technology.
WhatClinic.com (an internet company helping people find the best treatment) are still in the learning mode. in this case, they're trying to learn how to talk to dentists in Mexico, despite having no Spanish. It's a long story, more details on Enterprise-Ireland's blog. A summary of what they've learned so far ..
- Google Voice translation isn't perfect - they don't use it 100% yet. But you must still do a phone call to establish a person-to-person contact.
- You can get away with a lot of mistakes and confusion on a phone call (and there is a lot of confusion!), as long as you follow up by email using Google Translate. Copy-paste-translate is you're friend.
- In the internet age, a relevant product and a friendly voice are as good as, or better than, a slick localised presentation from a professional sales guy.
It makes you wonder what the guys are going to do with the conversation mode (the real-time speech translation on iPhone and Android) once it's quality becomes rock solid. What effect is Google Translate - both voice and text, is having / will have on your life?