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Bulgarian Invents Unique Translation Method
Posted by Donald A. DePalma on September 28, 2005  in the following blogs: Translation and Localization, Technology
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We first read about Koycho Mitev's invention in a very abbreviated form from Bulgarian National Radio. Other coverage noted that the translator chip (not yet invented) could be inserted into any phone. This innovation could change the world as we know it, so we contacted Mr. Mitev.

In materials that he sent us Mitev noted that "the invention is based on an in-depth analysis of the structure of human speech. We succeeded in creating a tool which records human speech by means of the digits from decimal system regardless of the speaker's mother tongue. The same 10 digits are used to record all articulate sounds uttered by homo sapiens." He went to to note that "the program will automatically convert digital codes from one system to another, thus reproducing the text in the recipient's language. You can speak Bulgarian, while at the other end -- in Norway you'll be heard in Norwegian with your own voice."

As we drilled down with Mitev, he told us that "our digital script permits us to store digital codes of words including their phonetic image. It is like the bar code system for identifying goods in supermarkets. We will develop a new product -- general software for communication speech-to-speech, text-to-text, and speech-to-text and vice versa."

Does his invention involve machine or automated translation? No. The former academic in us has a thousand other questions for Mitev, all of which we're asking via e-mail because we don't have that chip in our phone yet and our Bulgarian isn't what it used to be (and even then, it was pretty bad). How does his digital inter-language deal with languages lacking inflected forms? Can the parser understand intonations that can change the meaning? What does it do for disambiguation? Can the software learn from its experience? And so on.

Whether the device shows up in your phone or in your ear, Mitev's target is the Babel Fish (image ca. BBC 1981), the holy grail of human communication. We'll find out more about the scope of Mitev's patent, what it can actually do, whether there is a prototype we can play with, and his plans for productizing it. Stay tuned.


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Keywords: Machine interpretation, Machine translation, Speech technology, Translation, Translation technologies

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