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Skype's Real-Time Translator Learns How to Speak From Social Media

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A woman enjoys a conversation with a Brazilian student learning how to speak English via Skype.

Microsoft's upcoming Skype Translator app will use speech recognition, machine translation, and speech synthesis technologies to translate multilingual conversations in real time.

Credit: Alex Garcia/Chicago Tribune

Microsoft's upcoming Skype Translator app translates multilingual conversations in real time through a combination of speech recognition, machine translation, and speech synthesis technologies.

A key element of the app is a software system Microsoft Research developed to translate social media musings.

An essential component to enable translation is the syntactically informed phrasal statistical machine translation (syntactic SMT) system, which builds on the phrasal SMT platform but comprehends syntax as well. Syntactical SMT does not simply match common phrases, but deconstructs a phrase into individual words and then maps each word over to the other language.

Microsoft researchers then started studying Facebook, Short Message Service, and Twitter communications to determine the best technique for managing conversational text. To account for the characteristic differences of each social media platform, the researchers developed software capable of automatically adapting to these distinctions to generate something that syntactic SMT can process. The addition of this normalization system to the translator's protocol improved the quality of translations by boosting their accuracy 6 percent, says Microsoft's Vikram Dendi. "There's still a lot of work to do, but when we did this, it really did move the needle on understanding and translating that type of data better," he says.

From IEEE Spectrum
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rajib da

Hello! Thank you for your article. Id like to try this service to compare it to my previous experience of practicing English via Skype free I did around 10 conversations over Skype with a native speaker from And I was pretty satisfied with their Quality. I think they have a strong teaching quality, following their curriculum now I can speak English like a native, but I want to try another option.

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