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Communicating Across Language Barriers: Language Translation Technologies

NCJ Number
Corrections Today Magazine Volume: 68 Issue: 6 Dated: October 2006 Pages: 32-35,37
George B. Drake
Date Published
October 2006
5 pages
This article describes a new translation technology and presents the results of a 30-day trial test of the technology.
SpeechGear’s Interact translation system provided successful translations in 86.2 percent of the 232 ratable communications that were evaluated during the 30-day test period at the Probation and Parole Division of New Mexico Corrections Department. English-to-Spanish translations were successful in 61.2 percent of the communications while Spanish-to-English translations required rephrasing in 73.3 percent of the communications. Several reasons are offered for why the translation device provided better English-to-Spanish translations, such as the fact that the English-speaking probation officer was able to train the device to learn his voice, an opportunity the Spanish-speaking offenders did not have. The probation officer using the translation device also had the opportunity to learn which phrases were most likely to be correctly translated, increasing the number of successful English-to-Spanish translations. The 30-day trial test involved one bilingual probation officer using the translation device to communicate with willing Mexican Spanish-speaking clients. The officer then rated the success of the translations. The article also describes early translation systems and the increasing need for translation systems that can accurately and quickly translate a variety of languages in real-time for criminal justice populations. SpeechGear’s Interact is a step in the right direction for a criminal justice system that must quickly find solutions to growing language barriers. References


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