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Learn to speak like a local: TripLingo designs app for Olympics

11:24 AM, May 30, 2012   |    comments
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The Games of the XXX Olympiad will air on NBC and 11Alive next summer.

ATLANTA -- If you're heading to the Olympics in London, or just want to pretend you're there while at home watching it on telly, you may want to check out TripLingo's UK app.

The Atlanta-based company is developing an application with about 200 British phrases to help visitors navigate the game venues and restaurants like a local.

"It will have phrases that are relevant to the Olympics as well as sort of general day-to-day common British phrases," said TripLingo founder Jesse Maddox.

The company already has apps to help travelers in 12 different languages, from Mandarin to Spanish.

To test the need for such an app, we took six pictures and six British words to Centennial Olympic park to see how folks would fare. We asked them to decide which images represented bangers, bubble and squeak, bap, afters, lift and bog. Very few Atlantans got them right.

In case you're curious, the words refer to sausages, a type of potato patty, bread bun, dessert, elevator and toilet, respectively.

"Doing it for the Olympics, that's a big deal. We're pretty excited. It shows our versatility," said TripLingo co-founder and VP of Product Vince Baskerville.

The company has already shown its sense of humor with an app for those who want to speak in pirate or the romantic language of love.

From silly to serious, CTO Pratik Patel showed us around the design features of each app.  They have a dictionary and slang slider so users can decide how formal they want to be. There's a phonetic guide and audio clips for each phrase that will say them aloud. Users can even build a custom list of phrases based off the types of activities they plan to do. 

"It crunches it down to a smaller number of phrases that help you learn just the segments of the language you want," Patel said.

Founder Jesse Maddox noticed a need while living in southeast Asia for two years. He noticed a lot of tools for people who wanted to fluently learn a language, but not much for the common traveler trying to get around town.

"We're not just teaching you how to see hello in France, we're also teaching you what it's like to greet someone, using the language to get you inside into the culture," said Maddox.

TripLingo uses a team of native speakers, translators and locals from each country to voice the app to make sure the information is helpful and accurate.

The UK app is still under construction and will be available in July. When it's done, it will be free. Learn more about TripLingo's other apps.

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