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Interpreting Tool Graces the Silver Screen
Posted by Nataly Kelly on June 25, 2008  in the following blogs: Business Globalization, Best Practices, Technology, Interpreting
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We've had many a chuckle at the universal translator devices of science fiction lore -- and it's never a surprise to us when these fictional creations show up on screen, enabling an alien's roar to be converted into perfect English (usually with an American accent). In fact, we gave a presentation on the topic at Localization World in Berlin just a couple of weeks ago. However, even we were surprised when an interpreting tool popped up in an unlikely spot -- a movie set in present-day times.

We spotted the device in Baby Mama, a blockbuster comedy starring Saturday Night Live's Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, in theatres now.

MedPat 2CanTalk2 Dual Handset Phone

So, what is this tool? A dual receiver phone, that's what. The phones are offered by many large telephone interpreting companies. CyraCom was the first to conceive of the double-handset telephone product, and it is now offered by other companies, such as Language Line and Pacific Interpreters -- see our June 2008 reports on telephone interpreting for a description of how these work and where they fit in.

While the over-the-phone interpretation companies would have likely reveled in such prime product placement, the model that made its Hollywood debut was none other than the 2CanTalk2 phone, manufactured by MedPat, a supplier of phones for hospitals, hotels, and other facilities.

In the Baby Mama scenario, the phone was not used to communicate across languages, but during a monolingual birthing scene. MedPat markets the phone not only for telephone interpreting settings, but for labor and delivery units, so that both parents can communicate with friends and family via telephone. This is one of many examples of a technology that was invented for purposes of multilingual communication that also has benefits for same-language communication settings.

We don't think that the phone will win an Oscar for Best Performance by an Inanimate Object -- and we doubt that we'll see it starring with Merryl Streep anytime soon. Still, it's nice to finally see a real-life piece of language-related technology at the movies, even in a fictional setting.


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