An ambitious new app that falls somewhere between a social networking site and a translating service is about to hit the iTunes store in Iceland.
Accent, which is being launched exclusively in Iceland this week, is the brainchild of a team of Los Angeles-based app developers. The interactive app lets non-Icelandic speakers collaborate with Icelanders to learn words and phrases.
“Accent is a community of people asking for and sharing language translations,” app developer Marty McDonough explained in a press release. “All you have to do is ask for a photo, voice or text translation and someone who speaks that language will reply.”
For example, a phrase such as “May I please have a coffee?” could receive many different responses, such as “Má ég fá kaffi?,” “Ég ætla að fá kaffi,” or “Gæti ég fengið kaffi?” From there, you can interact with the users who responded to your question or share the translation on social media.
Marty says he thinks that by encouraging people to interact with other languages, Accent could be used to “preserve” or “help grow” languages that don’t have a large number of speakers.
“What I’ve learned is that there are people who would love to be able to preserve and help grow Icelandic,” Marty told The Grapevine. “The way to do that is to have a way to speak it and a way to store it and re-share it.”
For people who are learning Icelandic, Marty said Accent is a tool to help practice and share what they have learned.
“We’re not here to try to take away from existing language tools,” he said. “We can only learn because other people want to share what they have learned.”
This isn’t Marty’s first experience with translation app development. His other app, called Odyssey Translator, is available in languages such as German, Spanish, and French.
“Those are great, but they’re very limited, because they’re only travel phrases,” he explained.
Iceland was chosen to launch Accent because the country is a small market, and because many Icelanders already speak both Icelandic and English, according to Marty. After it’s release, Marty said he wants as many people as possible to sign up to test-drive the new app.
“The more Icelanders we have in Accent the better Accent will be,” he said.
Accent will be free to download from the iTunes store in Iceland when it is released. Following the launch, Marty said there are plans to launch in 100 other languages and countries.
“Iceland is the tip of the iceberg,” he said.