Putting A Universal Translator In Your Pocket

Hands up: ever been to a foreign country and been totally inept at communicating with your taxi driver.

I, for one, have had that fun experience – picture the scene: Tsukuba, Japan – a wintry morning trying to get to a conference I’m hosting. My taxi driver got out of bed on the wrong side that morning (probably had been doing so for many years), and we were just not able to decipher one another’s intentions. Sound familiar?

It would have been great in that situation to call someone who could both translate and interpret the social nuances.

This is where chinaONEcall steps in. Set up in time for the Beijing Olympics, they provide an over-the-phone interpretation service. I haven’t tried it yet, but they say they differentiate from normal translation services in that they interpret the context of your call from both a social and business etiquette point of view.

Given that 2.7 million US citizens visited China last year this may well be a busy number to call.

[Picture courtesy of Stuck in Customs]