Companies at Beijing Olympics circumvent the language barrier by using high-tech apps and a smartphone-like device to translate from Mandarin Chinese and ring the tills.

Although China’s “zero” covid” stopped the influx of sports fans who would normally cheer on their favourites, there are still thousands of athletes, coaches, journalists and technicians in China with money to burn.

“In recent days, we have had more customers, and we have relied on this smartphone to Translate when communicating with customers,” Wang Jianxin, assistant at the ice cream shop, told Reuters.

He did this by speaking into a smartphone and the device quickly translated his words before reading them back in a soft female voice.

A Chinese waiter uses a translation device to communicate with a foreign guest at the Green Dragon restaurant inside the Zhangjiakou Olympics closed loop. (REUTERS/Yiming Woo)

With staff and volunteers often wearing masks and visors, communication can be difficult, and Mandarin has little in common with languages ​​like English, German, Norwegian, French and Russian spoken by many people. Olympic competitors.

Fortunately, help is at hand in the form of devices like the iFLYTEK Jarvisen, an artificial intelligence (AI) smart translator developed in China.

“I thought the app was working great, it seemed to be working perfectly. She (the waitress) responded, she said the same as me,” Team USA press officer Nicki Hancock told Reuters after ordered lunch at the Green Dragon Restaurant.

Manager Lu Juanli saw a few raised eyebrows as guests were given unexpected menu advice, with ‘mushroom’ being translated as ‘mushroom’ among other anomalies.

Beijing Olympics, Beijing Olympics dates, Beijing Olympics translation With staff and volunteers often wearing masks and visors, communication can be difficult and Mandarin has little in common with languages ​​like English, German, French and Russian. (REUTERS/Yiming Woo)

“Some of our dishes have rather colorful names, so there are some inaccuracies in the translations, which is of more interest to customers. It’s very funny,” she said.

Non-Mandarin speakers use markers to highlight the dishes they want on plastic menus, and verbal communication happens through a translation device. Although apps and devices work well for many, there are still things that get lost in translation.

“Once we had an experiment where we wanted ‘cow’s milk,'” German journalist Frank Schneider told the ice cream parlor where Wang works.

“But the English ‘cow’ was understood as ‘cough’, which led to some confusion – people here are most afraid of corona (COVID-19) and cough is one of the symptoms. (But) overall it works pretty well,” he added.

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