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Translator Makes Language Sound Less Foreign

Translation software uses the sound of your own voice to "speak" a foreign language.

Kudos to software on the market that translates your words into another language. But thumb's down to that robotic voice those systems often churn out.

To the rescue is a Microsoft Research group that has created a Natural Language Processing software that can learn the sound of your voice and translate it into another language. Using the tones of your voice, the end product sounds more personal and, well, less foreign.

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Research scientist, Frank Soong, recently demonstrated this software at Microsoft's Redmond, Washington campus. He showed how the software could read text in Spanish, using the voice of his English-speaking boss, Rick Rashid.

In a second demonstration, Soong gave Craig Mundie, Microsoft's chief researcher and strategy officer, the power to speak Mandarin.

Check out the audio of these demos over at Technology Review.

While the software isn't entirely robot-voice free (especially on the Mandarin translation), the system is definitely a vast improvement on old software.

"For a monolingual speaker traveling in a foreign country, we'll do speech recognition followed by translation, followed by the final text to speech output a different language, but still in his own voice," Soong told Technology Review.

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With its more personal touch, Soon also thinks the software could benefit students learning a new language.

Soong says the software can translate between any pair of 26 languages, including Spanish, Italian and Mandarin Chinese.

Now I have no excuse to finally learn the Norwegian tongue of my Viking forefathers.

via Technology Review