The Language Barrier Is About to Fall – Or Is It?

Last week, I came across this very interesting essay in the Wall Street Journal about the future of translation and interpretation – via machines?! Anyone who knows anything about proper language use, knows how flawed machine translation a la Google or Bing is. Yes, it works (most of the time) to get the basic message across, but that’s about it. Being able to carry on a meaningful conversation using these tools is highly unlikely, I’d say.

What the author of the article suggests sounds very much like Star Trek, and although I am a fan and do believe that communication will change drastically in the future, I’m not sure I can agree with him on the how, and particularly on the time frame.

I do like the idea of eventually doing away with one common language, which would mean that the individual languages – that are such an intricate part of who we are as peoples and persons – would flourish (again) instead of disappear. But as to when and how that is going to happen… I just hope not too late for all the dying languages out there!

The comments on the essay are quite interesting, as well, but I’d love to know your thoughts about this.

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