Well I'm sitting here working the night shift, ready to dive back into doing nothing after having a great conversation with a Brazilian man who just walked in and took a room with his wife not 3 hours earlier.
What makes it amazing is that he could hardly speak English, but still he spoke more than I speak Portuguese. The whole conversation took place via Google translate. With him on his iPad and myself on my laptop using Google's realtime online translation tool we managed to cover topics from the usual tourist fare of where is the Anne Frank Museum to his father-in-law's life here during his time in the Portuguese navy, his own work as a salesman for a big packaging company in Brazil (providing products to big clients such as Loreal) and PET's billboard adverts
Sustainability is not a swear word (palavrão).
It may not have been as engaging as the encounter could have been had I taken the time to learn another language (being English is generally an excuse not a reason). I did feel I missed out a little on what the conversation could have been as he was a self-proclaimed comedian,
but only funny in portuguese.
Having said that, it is a fact that without the technology at hand we would not have been able to communicate at all and would have missed out on that human need to connect. With Google as his translator he could explain to me, as we rounded off our evening's talk (type), that
it doesn't matter how you do it, humans need to connect and communicate.
That said I would suggest we need to take it upon ourselves to reflect on how we use the technology at hand (lest it become a crutch) and what can be done to improve it to fill those missing segments of communication so that the whole world can be funny, in any language.
I'd like to open the floor (or more accurately, the comments section) to all the ideas you guys have about how to improve the translation experience
Thanks in advance.
I'm off to sit at a desk and do very little for 4 hours.