Open source tools for translating British to American English |

Open source tools for translating British to American English

Convert British English to American English (and vice versa) with these command-line translators.

Red telephone booth on a street in England
Image credits : 

Photo by Jonathan Chng on Unsplash


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Last Christmas, my wife and I traveled to my hometown of Ft. Pierce, Florida, and frequented a local establishment on the beach. There, we met a couple from The Midlands in the UK. The music was loud and so was the beer, so it was a bit hard to hear. Plus, even though it "seemed" they were speaking English, it was sometimes a challenge to understand what they were saying. I thought my time in Australia would have given me enough linguistic power, but, alas, a lot went over my head. There was more than the usual "soccer is football" or "trunk is a boot" sort of confusion.

Fortunately, there are open source solutions to translate "British" into "American." We may speak the same language, but our shared speech takes more twists and turns than Zig Zag Hill in Shaftesbury, Dorset!

If you happen to be at the bar with your Linux laptop, you can use a handy open source command-line program, cleverly called the American British English Translator (MIT license).

I installed the Translator on my repurposed MacBook running Linux with:

$ npm install -g american-british-english-translator

Which required me to install Node.js first.

I do declare!

In addition to translating words and phrases, the American British English Translator will analyze, ummm, analyse, documents. I gave this a go with a popular document called The Declaration of Independence. (tl;dr). It analyzed the document and returned many results. One of the more interesting was:

issue: Different meanings
American English: autumn
British English:
to become pregnant. (Either as in 'I fell pregnant' or as in 'She fell for a baby.');

Not exactly "taken captive on the high seas" as the Declaration's authors accused:

"He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands."

Along comes MARY

For simple word replacements, you can try Common_Language, an open source (MIT license) Python script.

Of course, if you're sharing a pint with your mates, you may need to actually speak to them in a voice and language they will understand. This would be a good time to bring MARY along with you.

MaryTTS is an open source, multilingual text-to-speech synthesis platform written in Java (GNU license). The handy browser-based interface makes it easy to translate your American bar talk into right good English (or other languages) in either a male or female voice.

So, now I am ready to meet my British friends (when it is safe to do so again), grab a few pints, and—Bob's your uncle—speak English like a native! Cheerio, y'all!

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About the author

Jeff Macharyas - Jeff Macharyas is the Director of Marketing at Corning Community College in New York. He is a writer, graphic designer and communications director who has worked in publishing, higher education and project management for many years. He has been the art director for Quick Printing, The American Spectator, the USO's OnPatrol, Today's Campus, and other publications as well as a telephone pole design engineer contractor. Jeff is certified in Google Analytics and Adobe Visual Design and holds...