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I can't speak foreign languages

Has anyone here used live spoken-word translation apps for iPhone in the real world? I’m going to be in France this summer, and my French is all but nonexistent. But I have a phone.

I’m curious how the quality is, but also the user experience. Is it super weird? Are people used to foreign tourists whipping out a translation app? In short, do we live in the future yet?


  • The Google one is free and when I tried my crappy Norwegian on it, it knew what I was saying.
  • this sounds fine but make sure you can at least say "je suis trés desolet, mais je suis en American trés bête" and you will ingratiate yourself to them enough to where they will listen to your little robot voice

    the French are notorious for not being interested in Americans' monolingual bullshit! There is also no internet anywhere, and dogshit EVERYwhere

    my two French cents
  • Paris is the San Francisco of Europe (smelly, overrated, expensive), but I still like it more than San Francisco, obviously.
  • the Catacombs!!!!!!!!!!! Most fantastic thing to have in a city!

    Plus at least Paris is still marginally classy and not completely overrun with tech bros. Their anti-internet stance seems downright heroic when you compare the two cities
  • True. Plus you can get a bottle of wine and baguette for like 5€, hey look, I accidentally found the Euro symbol by mashing a random sequence of keys!
  • good job Al
  • We're going to Grenoble, "at the foot of the French Alps where the river Drac joins the Isère." I like the sound of that river Drac, I wonder if we can go tubing on it. Initial googling is not promising. Point is they speak French and don't have catacombs.
  • Shit, maybe they do have catacombs for all I know.

    "Avez-vous des catacombes dans votre ville?"
  • ha ha ha ha

    on our honeymoon in rural France we met an older couple from Grenoble who were standoffish until we said our catch-phrase: "Nous sommes Américains. Nous sommes sur notre lune de miel" and the Grenoble couple just blossomed with delight, they both kissed both of us on both cheeks and were rhapsodizing about love in French, and it was the most FRENCH thing ever to happen and it was great. Ever since I have associated Grenoble with nice old people who love vacationing honeymooners. So hopefully people will be nice to you there.

    Why did you pick Grenoble? Very interested in this trip

  • Because family moved there. Freddy's brother and family are now living there for I don't know how many years, providing us with a good excuse to go to France. We'll use Grenoble as a home base and visit Paris, friends in Switzerland, maybe friends in Germany, etc. Very unformed agenda so far, we need to do some research. Suggestions welcome!
  • dang!!! Amazing.

    My main Paris recommendation is the Catacombs. Can't speak highly enough of them; even taking the full-on dumb tourist tour (which you have to--you can't just go poke around on your own, alas) is not enough to diminish their awesome grandeur

    are you taking your boy? Great opportunity to get some really intense cheese into him; I know he likes that

    I don't think he has a superstitious cast of mind, but nonetheless the Catacombs could potentially disturb him, full warning
  • I have used Duolingo in the past. It works well as a refresher if you knew bits of the language years earlier. Although, it may not be the best to start from scratch.
  • No, I don't want to learn French. I want a robot to translate for me.
  • Yeah, we're taking Calvin. I wonder what he wants to do in France. I'll have him do some independent research and report back.
  • Maybe use the translator with earbuds and then try to say the French out loud? They would probably respect that 1% more than you shoving a phone at them, I bet.
  • he loves cheese!
    DJ Cheese
  • The French are DEEPLY shitty about pronunciation, even as their language is noted for its pronunciation difficulty. They persist in going "QUOI? QUOI???" at you even when you know they know what you're trying to say. I get that it's annoying to have people show up in your country and just loudly start talking english right into your face, but still, if I'm making a good faith effort to speak French don't be a dick about it!

    Zin will you please make Calvin keep a cheese journal while he's there?

  • You might take Calvin to the Paris Bourse:

    I visited when I was in Paris, but there was a fancy event and I didn't go inside.

  • I had nothing but lovely experiences with the French when I was studying there many moons ago. Everyone was patient and pretty forgiving!
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