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Talking dictionaries and language translators

by , MBA

What is an electronic dictionary / talking dictionary, and why would you use it? This is a question many people have answered by buying a second or third unit. You use them because they empower you to jump over language barriers.

This technology goes by other names, as well:

  • Electronic dictionary
  • Handheld translator
  • Handheld electronic dictionary
  • Language translator
  • Language teacher
  • Talking dictionary
  • Pocket talking dictionary
  • Pocket translator
  • Talking language translator
  • Electronic interpreter

All these names simply refer to a handheld device that stores thousands of words in two or more languages and looks up the corresponding word in another language. With this ability, the devices are simply transliterators.

The next step up is the addition of storing phrases, rather than words. This feature makes the device a true language translator. Why not just learn the language? Well, that takes time. Often, it takes more time than you have available.

  • Are you going to postpone a trip to or from someone in another country for a year while you learn the language?

  • Are you going to tell your employer you can’t close an overseas sale because you need a year to learn the language before you take the trip?

  • Are you going to underperform in an overseas assignment due to language difficulties, or are you going to make a small investment in your career advancement?

  • The audio phrasebook was recorded with professional native narrators. Consequently, it delivers superb voice output.
  • The "You may hear" function helps another person select an answer from a list of canned answers. For instance, having picked the topic "In a restaurant," you choose a phrase. The waiter wants to reply to that phrase. You then select the "You may hear" option listed in the restaurant category (there is such an option in each category). The waiter can select the answer from the list provided.
  • A "phrase" is usually a complete sentence. It's called a "phrase" out of tradition.

Sentence Builder

This handy, easy to use feature is a word substitution tool for existing phrases in the phrasebook. You don't actually "build sentences" with it. Here's how you use Sentence Builder:

  • Choose a phrase.
  • Tap on a hyperlinked word in the phrase. This brings up a short list.
  • Tap a word from the list to replace the hyperlinked word with the one you tapped.

iTravl Spanish phrasebook sample

These language translators are useful when:

  • You have guests from another country—one with a different language
  • You develop a romantic or arranged relationship with someone who speaks a different language
  • You do business with people from another country—and you don’t want language barriers to cause misunderstandings
  • You want to take a trip to France, Germany, Italy, Russia, or some other country where you don’t want to learn the language as a condition of going—but don’t want to pass up the opportunity to visit
  • You hire an au pair
  • Your business has customers from another country and you can’t afford to send your customer service staff to language lessons
  • Any situation where you don’t want language differences to be barriers to communication and cooperation.

The current generation allows you to enter your own random sentences. This is called....

Full text translation
  • This feature allows you to type in your own random sentence. It's also called sentence translation.
  • This feature isn't available for every language pair. Look that the specs chart for the language pair you are interested in.
  • You can type on the virtual keyboard.
  • The other person can type on the virtual keyboard, in his/her own characters.
Full text translation sample in Spanish

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