Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Adventures in Google Translate

After our Saturday adventures with Mr. Ma, I decided it was about time I tried a different method of communication. I needed to let him know that I was trying to blend in with the culture, and did not want to have another scream at the American session. So I decided to pull out my new best friend, my iPhone.
Meet my new best friend, my iPhone.

Yes, I know it may seem odd that I referred to a cell phone as my new bestie, but one needs to understand how instrumental this phone has been for my survival in Shanghai.  If I need to get dinner, the Smart Shanghai app will give me a screen I can show cab drivers so they can whisk me away to my restaurant of choice.  If I am lost, I can use my Google Maps app to lead me home.  If I need someone to interpret my bills, I whip out my Pleco app that scans the Chinese characters and the phone gives me a rough interpretation of what I am reading.  (That is, if the text is clear enough to scan.)  It also has Google Translate, an app that will remove all language barriers.  So I thought.

As a result of the weekend mess, we were promised the dryer repairman would install the dryer on Tuesday.  Mr. Ma arrived at 9:00 am as promised, and we greeted each other with ni haos.  He pointed towards the dryer and started speaking to me in his native tongue.  I pulled out my iPhone, fired up Google Translate, and went to town.

In order for this to work, I would have to train Ma on how to use the app.  I said, “Hello” into the phone.  “Ni hao” popped up on the screen. Perhaps this was going to work. I continued.  “All you have to do is speak into the phone, and it will translate what you say to English.”  More characters popped up.  Ma started laughing hysterically.  I knew something was up.  I pressed the microphone button, and let Ma take a turn.  He barked into the phone.

“We’ll be done after Jack is swimming in lasagna” appeared on the screen.  I started laughing like a hyena.  We tried it again.  This is what we got:

Okay, first Jack then Charles...this is REALLY working!

We were both laughing so hard we were in tears after this.
Ma then resumed his crack up session and went to work on the dryer.  After realizing he could not install the dryer because one of the feet and the manual was missing, we shared a few more laughs.  Here’s why:

Oh I get this one!  I can't get the dryer installed, so the delivery man will phone up when he is about to deliver the good dryer!

I think this app will call it a day.

The good news is that all of our appliances have been installed, the internet is working, and both the satellite and local cable is up.  The apartment is feeling like home!  AND Mandarin lessons resume Monday!  Now it's time to explore my new city!