This is a great idea. Although I’ve spent a lot of time in various chatrooms since the early beginnings of IRC and have seen my fair share of various bots, I’ve never encountered a translation bot. Now, Google has announced just that for its Google Talk IM service: bots (bot is short for robot, a program that mimics real conversation or serves some task in a chat channel) which will translate whatever you say into another language.
This is how it works: add firstname.lastname@example.org as a friend in Google Talk and send it a message. It’s a bot that will translate whatever you say from English to Chinese.
For other languages, add any of the other 29 translation bots: ar2en, bg2en, de2en, de2fr, el2en, en2ar, en2de, en2el, en2es, en2fr, en2it, en2ja, en2ko, en2nl, en2ru, en2zh, es2en, fi2en, fr2de, fr2en, hi2en, hr2en, it2en, ja2en, ko2en, nl2en, ru2en, uk2en, ur2en, zh2en. If the names seem confusing to you, check this list of two-letter language abbreviations for clarification. The syntax is “[from language]2[to language]@bot.talk.google.com”
Now, I must admit that I’m used to talking in English when I’m online in, well, 100% of cases. However, not everyone speaks the language, and people that don’t will probably we overjoyed with this little invention of Google’s. Plus it’s probably a solid way to learn some basics of a language (we’re talking basic stuff here, complex sentences will probably get mutilated by the bot).