Arabic just became the eighth language supported by Microsoft’s real-time translation tool.
Skype Translator, which allows people who speak different languages to communicate in real time over Skype, was updated Tuesday with support for Arabic. The new language, like the rest of Skype Translator, is still in preview but is available to anyone who uses the tool.
While Arabic has many dialects, the update is adding Modern Standard Arabic, which is the standardized version of the language taught in schools. As with the other Skype Translator languages, the translation you see will change in real time as the other person is speaking. That’s because for each word of a sentence that’s spoken, the translation software becomes more confident in a sentence’s meaning and is able to make adjustments in real time.
Arabic joins English, Spanish, French, German, Mandarin, Italian and Portuguese (Brazilian) in Skype’s growing lineup of languages. Microsoft says that adding Arabic was particularly important to the company as it could help migrating families, nonprofit organizations and other groups who need to speak to people in the 22 countries where Arabic is the official language,
Those who have downloaded the Skype Translator Preview, can find Arabic in the app’s language settings.
Though the tool is ready to use now, it is still in preview so the translations won’t be perfect. In two demos I saw of the software, Translator appeared to handle basic conversations well, but sometimes stumbled with more complex sentences or misheard words. (In one case it mistook the word “bye” for “vine,” while in another conversation it appeared to substitute “Crown Princess” for “England.”)
Still, as we’ve noted previously, Skype Translator is impressively quick and effective overall. Microsoft says it expects the translations will improve quite a bit as more people begin using the software.