WASHINGTON, Aug. 2 (UPI) — U.S. researchers say they’re working on smartphone-based translation programs that could aid American soldiers dealing with civilians in Afghanistan.
Scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology have demonstrated speech translation devices that could translate between English and Pashto, an official language of Afghanistan, an institute release said Saturday.
Traditionally, the military has used human translators for communicating with non-English speakers in foreign countries, but the job is dangerous and skilled translators often are in short supply, the institute said.
In the new devices, an English speaker talks into the phone, and speech recognition software generates a text file that another program translates to the target language.
Text-to-speech technology then converts that text file into an oral response in the foreign language.
This process is reversed for the foreign language speaker.
Pashto, a native Afghan tongue, is the current focus of research but NIST says it has also assessed machine translation systems for Dari—also spoken in Afghanistan—and Iraqi Arabic.
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