Okay, so we all know that Asia is the world’s largest continent with billions of people living and about 50 countries in it. We also know that most of the time, learning the English language is essential especially now that the world is getting smaller and smaller. However in China you won’t hear anybody speaking English. I’ve had the chance of experiencing China for a day and no one, at least among the people we encountered, spoke English—even the waiters of a restaurant near the airport. I mean one would expect the said restaurant to be accommodating enough and have English-speaking waiters get their orders, but no. Chinese people and some other countries in Asia stand by the use of their local language in everyday life—even in business. Very nationalistic.
That was just one instance proving the fact that the flow of information and communication in this part of the world is a bit problematic. This is why Google’s employees are very busy today, trying to connect ideas and people more.
The Philippine Star on July 05, 2010 enumerated the different problems of Asia regarding information and what Google has done to solve it. One is the availability of information in other languages. Today people from outside the country can read President Noynoy’s speech in different languages, thanks to Google. They have this Translate tool that, well obviously, translates a word, an article or even a whole website in a certain language to another language.
It’s not that effective though. If you would like to get just an idea of what a certain article is all about then Translate may be enough for you. But if it’s important for you to really understand it, I think Google’s tool can’t help you that much. I haven’t experienced the Translate tool, but I got disappointed when I tried other “translate” websites so that I could understand what the song Dia de Enero is all about. The English translation was really word per word that I couldn’t get the whole message.
This is a limitation of search engines—machines. Computers don’t have the ability, for example, to determine whether the phrase “squeezing lemons into my cuts” is in its figurative or literal meaning. More than that, culture plays an important role in understanding another language. You have to know it before you can comprehend and communicate well. Computers can’t teach you all that.
Google is doing a great job in helping people look for what they need and making business easier. But it’s good to know that computers can’t do everything. I think life would be a bit more boring. Experiences would be much fun if you go for the adventure, trying to look for the best in the world through your own means.