[From November Issue 2012]
“It’s fine weather today.” “It’s not raining today.” Both these sentences mean it’s not raining, but the nuance is different, depending on whether you use the word “fine” or “rain.” It’s important to choose the right words when expressing yourself and this is especially true if you’re talking to a foreigner. NTTdocomo’s “Mail Translation Concier” is an app to help you out in these kinds of situations.
Translating inputted text into foreign languages, “Mail Translation Concier” has been developed for NTTdocomo smartphone users. It’s very easy to use. You start the app and, simply type in a sentence like, “What’s your favorite food?” The text will be translated immediately into a foreign language of your choice.
Text in, say, English, will be translated into Japanese, furthermore the translated Japanese can be translated back into English with a Japanese nuance. You can tell how your text has been understood by whoever you are communicating with. One of the characteristic features of this app is that it displays three sentences allowing you to make comparisons. As it can translate foreign languages into Japanese and vice versa, it’s quite useful for foreigners learning Japanese. Three languages are available to be translated into Japanese: English, Chinese and Korean.
With this app, foreigners learning Japanese can learn Japanese expressions. Of the three sentences, the original and the translation can be emailed, or can be sent via SNS sites such as Twitter. They can also be saved to a memo pad. If a foreigner in need of directions shows the translation, perhaps a kind Japanese will show him the way.
Japanese can be input not only through a touch screen, but also orally. The translation will be displayed just as if the text had been typed in. It’s much easier to have your speech directly translated. The app is free of charge, but we recommend you subscribe to a fixed rate plan as downloading and using the app will incur packet communication charges.
You should always use your own head rather than relying too heavily on an app. However this is useful for those times when you need to look up a Japanese phrase, want to learn an expression, want to communicate by email with Japanese people, or send messages through a SNS. Furthermore the retranslation function will allow you to communicate without fear of being misunderstood. You can use the app to study Japanese, or to communicate with Japanese people.
Text: ITO Koichi