“Que Dijo?” Picture this, I am a small 10 year old kid, accompanying his father to various trips around Monterey County during the weekends. What exactly was I doing spending my weekends with my father while other children were watching Saturday morning cartoons?
I was translating what the client wanted my father to work on. My father works in construction and has built up a respectable reputation for good, honest work. The only problem is that most of my fathers clients speak English while he only understands Spanish. Hence after each sentence he would say, “Que Dijo?” (translates to “Say What?” in English). Perhaps you can already imagine the difficulties this would cause, especially in construction where attention to detail matters. Every weekend I would travel with my father to Salinas, Carmel, Marina and Seaside to translate the tasks clients wanted my father to work on
Looking back, there is one trip that stands out from all the rest. It was a recurring trip in Marina where my father was attempting to land a new client. The trip went as usual, I would introduce my father and I, and begin translating the work back and forth. However, this time, something unexpected happened. One sentence had me puzzled and I still remember it until this very day. “Just add that to the quota”. I heard this and immediately thought, “Wow, I don’t know what that means. I think it means bill?”. My father asked me what he meant and I said, “I think he means to add that work to the bill”. At the end of the day we went back home and as soon as we got there, I ran as fast as I could to my room and looked up the meaning of the word inside of a dictionary.
There was a moment of fear and urgency that I had when I realized I did not know the word. I felt like the entire deal would be crushed because of this detail. Fortunately, enough the next several meetings went fine and my father went on to work for the family and we continue to speak and visit until this very day.
One thing I truly understood during this period of time was that how you communicated with others mattered. Tone and speed could make a phrase sound so different. I knew that in order for potential clients to trust my father there had to be a way for him to communicate with them without me being present.
As I entered high school I went on to go with my father less and less to these trips and stopped all together while I was in college studying computer science. I would not get the opportunity to help out my father again until I had finished up college and an internship in San Francisco.
All it took was my father to ask me a question on how to pronounce a word in English and that is when I realized, I love developing Android applications that what I want my career to be in and my dad has an Android phone. I am going to make an Android app for him! It is one of the best ways for me to be there without actually being there.
Flash forward to two months later, I have now successfully launched “SayWhat” into the Google Play Store and my father is now using an app he helped me design.
Here is how it works:
- Enter any phrase you want to be translated. The app currently support English to Spanish voice and text translations. No need to switch languages, as the app will detect the spoken language and translate it correspondingly.
- Press the translate button and view the translation!
- Press the “Add” icon on the top right to save the translation.
- Press the “Mic” icon to speak to the app and receive a translation.
- Press the “Chat” button to view your saved translation.
You can also have your translations “read” to you by pressing the blue sound icon.
Releasing SayWhat has to be one of my proudest moments as a Software Engineer. I invite you to download and use the app and recommend it to anyone who is learning either English or Spanish. Let there never be a “Que Dijo” or a “Say What?” moment happen again. http://bit.ly/SayWhatJosephM
Go download and follow @risingmotivations on Instagram.