Multilingual IM service debuts

Instant messaging has become an increasingly popular tool in the workplace, but it has not kept pace with the global nature of modern enterprises. Like most forms of communication, it only works when both parties speak the same language.

But MeGlobe, a multilingual IM service launched today in beta version by Telestic Inc. of Los Angeles, offers real time translation of IM chat messages between users writing in different languages.

MeGlobe is a free Web-based subscriber service. After being signed up, users can chat with any other users in any of the 14 languages now supported. So if you need to get in touch with someone in Brazil right away and don't have time for a crash course in Portuguese, MeGlobe will handle the job for you. Each party types in his native language in the Web client, and MeGlobe sends a translated version in the appropriate language to the other party.

The translation engine uses a proprietary learning system intended to improve the quality of its translations over time, including slang and colloquialisms.

However, the service probably is not yet ready for use in the State Department for sending sensitive diplomatic messages. The need to train the system is why MeGlobe is being offered in beta version, and Telestic wants to keep expectations realistic during the breaking in phase.

'The fact is, machine translation just isn't ready for primetime,' the company wrote on its Web site. 'Human-to-human interaction, i.e. chatting with a native buddy from Uzbekistan about last night's rerun of Baywatch just isn't feasible'yet.'

But when you see that a translation is off, you can edit and correct it. The user on the other end sees the corrected translation and it also is included in the engine's knowledge base.

'Every correction from the community brings us closer to our goal of erasing the borders of language,' the company says.

MeGlobe now supports these languages:
  • English
  • French
  • German
  • Italian
  • Portuguese
  • Spanish
  • Russian
  • Dutch
  • Greek
  • Swedish
  • Arabic
  • Japanese
  • Korean
  • Chinese, both traditional and simplified

  • The service requires no downloads and is supported by advertising. It is powered by Jabber software.

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.


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