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Three Ways Translation Tech Can Improve Thai-English Communication

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Three Ways Translation Tech Can Improve Thai-English Communication

Let’s face it. Thai is not the easiest language for English speakers to learn. It’s not just the additional consonants and vowels and the tonalities. Even more it’s not just the different alphabets or unfamiliar pronunciations. It’s just the sheer difficulty of getting started crossing the language barrier. But never fear: the latest crop of translation tech apps and professional translation services can smooth the way to improved communication between Thai and English speakers.

Professional Translation Services are the Fast Track to Bridging Language Gaps

Money may not buy love, but it can improve the translation. There are hundreds of translation providers that specialize in the Thai language, but the best agencies give you a guarantee on quality. Ofer Tirosh, CEO of the Tomedes, notes that demand for professional translation services increased in 2020. That trend, he says, is likely to continue.

You will pay a premium for this quality and fast response of professional translation services. As a “rule of thumb,” those services are 20% to 50% more expensive than freelance translators as measured by price per word, the usual way for metering translation costs. Top-tier translation agencies may charge from 6 THB to 12 THB for Thai to English translation, less in the other direction (because there is a greater supply of less expensive Thai native translators). If you go directly to freelance translators, you may get a lower rate, but you will not necessarily get the same level of quality or responsiveness. Agencies ensure that their translators are well-trained, but not all freelancers go through the same quality assurance process.

The least expensive option is to “Do It Yourself” with machine translation and translation apps. There are also standalone translator gadgets like Pocketalk and Langogo, but these products, however ingenious, force you to carry around another device. Moreover, they can require a substantial up-front investment of several thousand baht.

Google and Microsoft are the leader’s multilingual machine translation cloud service when it comes to English-to-Thai and Thai-to-English. Both offer totally free multi-purpose apps and online services for any device. Even if you’re not a “Cheap Charlie,” let’s consider what is possible to do with free apps and online services.

How Can You Get Thai-English Text Translation Services and Tools at No Cost?

The core criteria of any machine translation are its capabilities to translate text in two directions. Both Microsoft and Google excel at this, although Google Translate may enjoy a qualitative edge based on its success in international competitions. Our suggestion is to try both free apps and see which feels more intuitive and natural to you. They both have similar translation functionality but there are subtle differences in features and interface.

How Can You Get Thai-English Camera Translation at No Cost?

Camera translation uses the technique known as Augmented Reality to make sense of visual material in a different language. In Chiang Rai, many restaurant menus and street signs are in Thai only. English speakers can order food and get around by just holding up their phone cameras to a menu or sign and see the English translation in place of the Thai writing.

How Can You Get Thai-English Simultaneous Voice Interpretation at No Cost?

The main problem in using apps to translate is the inconvenience of each party being forced to type. Happily, there’s a solution in recent editions of the translation apps of Google and Microsoft. Simply talk into your phone in English, and your words are automatically translated and spoken into Thai. Then press another button and your friend’s Thai words are instantly converted to spoken English. The Microsoft Translator app lets you choose between a male and female voice. Google Translate is smart enough to recognize whatever is spoken and to automatically begin translating to the correct language.

Give it a try. The results, as a rule, are surprisingly understandable, though it’s not unusual for mistakes to occur because a word or phrase is not correctly interpreted. When that happens, it can be an “icebreaker” and a source of amusement. But as a rule, essential meaning can be communicated without getting lost in translation.

Microsoft is out ahead when it comes to one-to-many translation, which is well suited for conferences and multilingual meetings. A speaker can address a large group, in person or in a Zoom call, and participants can hear a translation of the speaker in a preferred language. Before the event, each participant gets a code that refers to the preferred language. And then each listener hears the language of their choice just seconds after the speaker speaks.

The smart way to proceed is to try the Thai-English translation free and inexpensive solutions first and see how far you can get. Save your money for professional translation services when quality is most important. That way neither quality nor baht gets lost in translation.

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