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Multilingual Chat

2006-02-1 @ 1:56 » Français

Some time ago, a friend of mine introduced me to a multilingual chatroom project he was working on. It was for him a way to tinker with some aspects of machine translation (MT), and also of networks – using linked translators on the fly when MT proved too much of a problem. The goal of the project itself wasn’t the creation of a viable application as such, but rather exploration and investigation.

The idea of a multilingual chat is not new (see, for instance, Bablechat), but I thought it would be interesting to try it for myself. Using resources readily available on the Web, I therefore endeavoured to integrate a multichat where users could – more or less – chat in various languages (English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish, so far) and understand each other (as far a possible given today’s technology). Okay, I might be infringing on some copyright or other, but as it’s all in the name of learning and experimentation, I hope the PTBs will let it slide.

The way it works is simple:
When the user’s language choice is not the same as the message, a translation appears beside it. Users have a default language (set upon registration) but can change language on the fly (using a drop-down menu on the right-hand side). The messages are translated according to the language chosen there, so you can actually read translations of what you typed in before changing language.

For various reasons, I prefer to keep control over the registration process for now. If any of you out there like the idea, drop me a line (mab at mab dot ms) and I’ll send you the URL as well as a User ID and password.

What do you think?