I’m passionate with language (I do speak Portuguese, I used to speak French but I forgot. I’m taking English, Spanish classes and I used to study American Sign Language. I used to collect few sentences from different languages and I stopped it was 44 different languages).
I always thought that it is complicate to translate language. The best way to learn a language will be studying that language, and that takes time. I would say would take years. If you have a chance, and of course not everyone can do that, the best way to learn a language will be move to the place (country) where people speak that language for at least a month. Actually my teacher use to say we need at least 6 months to start to learn a new language and get some fluency and he used to say that if you want to speak without an accent would take at least 10 years.
Another day, my friend, Brazilian posted on her Skype something in Portuguese. Her boyfriend thought she was upset with him and copied the sentence and translated it on Google. She wrote a sentence saying she was missing home, but she used one word (saudade) and that word has meaning only in Portuguese. That word doesn’t exist in any other language. If you translate on Google, we will find: longing, nostalgia, yearning, missing and yen but isn’t the same word. We have words for those words too, separately.
So, when he translated the sentence, he got a very confused because the sentence was saying that “she want to be there but she is here and that is the end” which was totally different sentence than when she said, “she was missing home”.
So, like I said, I passionate with language but I don’t have iphone so, I never heard about itranslate – Utimate. It is an application that you can translate sentences to 5 different languages and reads them back to you in that language. First frustration was: they have only English, French, Spanish, Germany and Italian. No Portuguese. Second frustration: the voice translator was awful and I couldn’t understand well what it was saying. Basic phrases like I love you, thank you, I guess is fine because I can recognize in the others language but I was afraid to type things I don’t know the meaning because I wasn’t sure if what they would give back to me would be real. Another translator gave me back instead of hi, how are you? They said: hi, how is you? Following that example, people can think the correct way to say is: Hi, How is you?
I think is you are studying a new language and use those kind of application just to help learning, that is ok, but if you use those application as a unique way to learn a new language, than I don’t recommend it because in my opinion it is very poor. Can be helpful if people want to learn vocabulary and pronunciation, but since I thought the voice was awful, I’m not sure I could be used with that purpose.