A language decoder would be an incredible tool to have at your disposal —you’d be able to converse with everyone, no matter where they came from and what language they spoke!
It may sound like science fiction, but the US Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is working on a version of this very invention, for use by soldiers.
Found in Translation. There are over 6,000 languages spoken in the world and a good language decoder would be able to identify all of them (or at least the top 300!). The computer would probably be in headset form, so that it could work in two ways: translating what you hear and what you say. Think of the advantages.
There would be no more need for frantic pointing or repeating yourself loudly in your attempt to be understood when you’re on holiday in foreign climes. Asking for directions would be a doddle, you could even have deep conversations with the locals about culture and politics!
There would be no need for film or TV subtitles any more.
The world would be a more peaceful place, with fewer cultural misunderstandings and breakdowns in communication.
On the downside, the more popular the device became, the more translators that would be put out of work! However, for the moment, their jobs are safe, as it looks like language decoders are still a fair way off.
Babel Fish are language decoders in Douglas Adam’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy books. They sit in the ear and feed off the brainwaves of other people, excreting those frequencies into your ear so that you can understand what they’re saying, whatever the language.