Phraselator

I have been out walking in the woods lately – really long walks.  I load up my mobile with some podcasts for my treks and recently had some familiar voices pass through my headphones.  Freelance journalist Philippe Morin in Inuvik, Northwest Territories put together a story for CBC Spark back in March 2011 about the use of weatherproof, handheld military translation devices called Phraselators and how they are being used to assist Inuvialuktun language education in the Canadian High Arctic.

As I have mentioned before, I spent 4 wonderful years as a community school administrator and teacher in Aklavik, NWT.  I often reflect and remember the people I had the good fortune of living and working beside.  I landed in Aklavik just before Nunavut became a new Canadian territory and just as the federal government became involved in funding initiatives to bring internet connectivity to the Arctic.

As an educator with a background in programming, I became the network/systems administrator for the school and was tapped for work with the NWT Ministry of Education, Culture, and Employment to explore and develop curricula for this newly arrived medium.  It was an exciting time to live and work in the Arctic.

Many of the voices in this interview are of people I worked with – it was so good to hear their voices again.

[audio:http://networkeffects.ca/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/cbc_report_machinetranslation.mp3]

Arctic Translation [MP3]

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3 Comments

  1. Cool idea; I can see the usefulness of a single-purpose device for military settings, but I wonder if some such thing doesn’t exist already for consumers as an app?

  2. Looks like Google Translate app has 60+ languages machine translated via voice prompts, but not sure how easy it is to get indigenous languages added to their roster – I think that is where this stand-alone device is finding utility.

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