voice recognition translation devices?


Jan 20th, 2002, 10:38 AM
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voice recognition translation devices?

Has anyone has experienced trying to use the hand held voice recognition translation devices to have a conversation? Are they worthwhile to have in China?
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Jan 20th, 2002, 11:14 AM
Peter Neville-Hadley
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Simply carry a small phrase book such as the Berlitz one which puts, for instance, all the vegetables on one page, and all the meats on another, and can be use for showing Chinese characters to a waitress or for having her show you what food she has. Not expensive.

Also take a bi-lingual menu from your nearest Chinese take-away [take-out]. The characters aren't quite the same, but it will work (and the food will be better). Free.

In China buy a copy of the pocket-sized red-covered Oxford English-Chinese Chinese-English dictionary. Use it for pointing to what you mean, and let Chinese do the same for you. Under US$5 when bought in China.

NB: Unless you know how to write Chinese you cannot use a Chinese dictionary to look up characters (it would take too long here to explain why). If you can get someone to pronounce them for you, then you can look them up as long as you know the Romanisation system for modern Mandarin called 'Hanyu Pinyin'. But then it's simpler to hand over the dictionary to the person you are talking to. Altogether a much cheaper and more reliable solution than the high-tech one.

But if you absolutely have to be high-tech, and have a device on the Palm platform, then the Oxford Dictionary can be bought in Palm format for about US$40. It doesn't speak, however, and you may have to educate Chinese you're talking to on how to use the stylus to write the characters they want to translate. On the whole, the printed version (which they'll know how to use), is simpler.

Peter N-H
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