Foreigners in San Francisco will soon be able to get a Spanish "hola" or Korean "yeobose" translated into "hello" by dialing up an interpreter who can instantly help them pay a utility bill, apply for credit cards or buy an opera ticket. A toll-free telephone number will connect immigrants, tourists and business travelers to translators standing by to communicate a caller's needs to the city government and a handful of San Francisco businesses that have signed on to the eight-language trial program.
The Your World, Your Language service is a collaboration between telecommunications giant AT&T and interpretation provider Language Line Services. It is starting in San Francisco, where nearly half of all residents speak a language other than English, but the plan is to go nationwide over the next year-and-a-half.
"Clearly, the demographics of the country are staggering, and we believe once the service is readily available it will be used by millions," said Louis Provenzano, president of Language Line Services.
The service is free for callers, with participating companies and organizations paying for the two-way translations - about US$15 (NT$500) for a 10-minute call. Language Line already offers over-the-phone interpreters fluent in over 170 languages to government agencies, health care institutions, insurers and other companies, including AT&T.
The service will first be available in eight languages that reflect the linguistic diversity of San Francisco: Cantonese, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Russian, Spanish, Tagalog and Vietnamese.
As part of their partnership, Language Line Services is providing the interpreters while AT&T is routing calls and maintaining the telephone network. (AP)
1. collaboration n.
合作 (he2 zuo4)
例: The book was the result of a collaboration between the County government and Ministry of Transportation And Communications.
2. demographics n.
人口統計資料 (ren2 kou3 tong3 ji4 zi1 liao4)
例: The demographics of the island are changing rapidly due to immigration.
3. staggering adj.
驚人的 (jing1 ren2 de5)
例: The rate of teenage pregnancy is staggering.
4. diversity n.
多元 (duo1 yuan2)
例: The holiday was held to celebrate cultural diversity.
「你的世界，你的語言服務」是美國電信龍頭AT&T 與提供翻譯的Language Line Services公司之合作計畫，已在近半數居民都不講英語的舊金山展開，一年半後將陸續推往全美。
Language Line Services總裁路易士．波維薩諾說︰「顯然，美國的人口統計資料相當驚人，我們相信一旦服務推出，將有數百萬人受惠。」
合作關係中，Language Line提供翻譯員，AT&T則轉接電話並維持電話網絡暢通。 （美聯社/翻譯：賴美君）