People usually don’t venture too far out when it comes to learning new languages. Most often knowing their home language and maybe one or two additional languages. There are far too few who seek to step beyond this. How many acquaintances do you know who speak more than say two languages fluently?
The era of using slang more than cognitive English for example, has turned the tables on a once well educated system. Pupils are stepping into college unable to spell or put together simple sentences without struggle. That is the reality and it’s frightening.
Waverley Labs have developed “The Pilot System” which could ease us all into the ability to effectively translate what we hear into simple, understandable English, French, Spanish and Italian.
Due to hit the shelves in September, retailing for $129, people will have the opportunity to finally communicate while travelling abroad. You do have the choice of simply continuing to speak really loud and slowly in your home language with the hope that the next person understands you, but why would you want to?
The system comprises of two ear pieces which are easily fitted, along with a handy app which allows you to toggle through settings like the language you wish to hear. Easy and straightforward, this device could be a game changer for many.
Flipping the coin, there is the downfall. Does such a device create a “lazy” society? Will specialist language classes disappear? Will the French class we attended in school be a thing of the past?
As Alex Steer mentions – “The ability to speak to someone in his or her mother tongue is a hugely powerful social gesture – a little like travelling to meet someone face to face, even though you could phone or teleconference. It’s part of what some linguists call the interpersonal function of language – the way language establishes bonds and relationships, as well as passing on information. So even if translation gets really good, there are likely to be good reasons to be able to speak languages not your own.”
What would happen to the world? What would our economy look like? How would business deals be structured? Is this device the fail-safe plan of the future or simply another cool gadget?