YZ Translator

YZ Translator is an app concept that combines both language-learning tools and translation tools in order to facilitate a better and more seamless experience of language. The app is aimed at intermediate language-learners who have a basic grasp of their language, but are in the process of fully immersing themselves in their new language. YZ Translator offers voice and text translation for whenever the need arises, as well as an index of all previous translations encounters the user might have. A unique feature of the app is its analysis, which breaks down words/phrases within the translated text and provides explanations and context for the word/phrase. It allows users a deeper dive into their language.



The Process

the practical & philosophical considerations of language


Understanding the Problem

In what ways can screen based interactivity facilitate a simultaneous experience of language? 

Initially in beginning this project, a problem and a question had to be posed in order to frame the direction/focus of this app concept. Originally, this app design was supposed to be a simple exploration into UI/UX design for translation apps. However, with further iterations on design and more testing throughout the course of the project, it evolved. Drawing from personal experiences in the challenges of language-learning and interviews with others who are multilingual, the project began to address a problem that isn’t normally addressed, language-learning for intermediate levels of fluency in a new language. How does one continue to further one’s understanding of a language where there isn’t an instantaneous language barrier?


Initial Exploration

Above are initial designs exploring how language is simply shown on the screen and how the two can interact to facilitate a simultaneous experience of language. For those who are multilingual, code-switching is a very common act where the person consciously or unconsciously switches between their languages depending on the situation. The designs delved into this particular aspect of language to see if there were alternatives to how words can be shown to better aid the process.

Other considerations were highlighting certain words or phrases in one language and seeing where it is contextually in the language-structure of the other.
User-tests showed very positive reactions to this functionality, as well as a particular function that pulls up a more in-depth look at the language, such as breaking down the context it has within the sentence and its definition(s).

Understanding Language

In what other ways do humans experience language?

The process of iteration after iteration of the information architecture and design of the app began to feel tedious and draining. An aside that helped inspire a sense of play and fun back into the designs was this booklet. Abstractly, the booklet demonstrates how some forms of language is experienced today. The nature of language is that it is a socially constructed set of rules and sounds that articulate meaning—the transitory and ever-evolving nature of that really was, and still is, intriguing. Throughout my research for the YZ Translator, there were numerous philosophical and practical questions I had to consider, from semiotics and postmodernism to defining code-switching within language and dialects. This booklet begins, even if minutely, to compile my understandings of the research into digestible images.