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SpeakLike offers real-time IM translation

Need to communicate with a colleague, client, or eBay seller in China, but don't speak Chinese? SpeakLike wants to help. The service, which launches in private beta this week provides real-time chat translation services.

SpeakLike works by using a combination of machine and human translation. As you send a message, a machine will automatically translate it to another language, while a human translator looks things over to make sure the translation is accurate.

SpeakLike plans to charge by the message. So rather than paying by the word or minute as you would with most translation services, you'll pay $.10 per message. It's not clear if there's a word limit on messages, but we're going to assume you can't write a 10 paragraph message and then hit send.

At launch, SpeakLike supports English, Spanish, and Simplified Chinese. Human translators will only be available during limited hours while the service is in beta. But eventually the goal is to offer 24/7 translation services.

In order to user SpeakLike you'll need to install the company's chat client. The service is not compatible with AIM, MSN Messenger, or any other service. And there's currently no option to save transcripts of your chat. But you'd be amazed what a little copying and pasting can do to remedy that situation.

Tags: chat, commercial, IM, instant-messaging, speaklike, translation, tweet-this