If knowing how to speak at least few words of the language of the countries in which you are traveling is important to you, this gadget might help. The Speaking Global Translator works by “saying” the phrases that you type into the keyboard. This might be a good way to perfect your pronunciation and memorize certain key words. As you country hop, you can switch the language. Don’t expect Wolof, though. The languages are the 12 most common languages spoken. Spanish, French, Russian, Chinese–that sort of thing.
Think about how this might come in handy as you stumble off a night train in a totally different country from the place you left, your brain all in a fog. Bargaining for a better price for a motel room or that nifty souvenir could go a lot easier. Just think of the wonders of being able to ask for directions.
My tendency is to ask around until I find a person who speaks English who can help me, but that’s not a fool proof system, particularly the further away from major cities one heads. Even when people know English, their English may not be great–so who knows if what you tell them is being translated the way you intend it too.
This is an expensive item, though. At least, I think it is. For $229.95, I’d have to ponder a bit more to see if I’d find it useful–or if it would end up in a drawer with the hand-held, battery-operated portable fan that’s meant to cool your face on a hot day. [via 2007 Holiday Hit List, Columbus Dispatch)