It seems that at least once a week, I get a voicemail that’s in a different language. There’s music playing in the background and it’s a pre-recorded message. Thanks to taking a Chinese Civilizations course in college, I know enough to identify that this message is in Chinese. It’s frustrating because I’m 99% sure these are scam calls, but I’m still a bit curious to know what the message says.

Today, I found a simple way to transcribe voicemails to text and translate them to English.

But first, just a reminder to make sure all of your phone numbers are on the Do Not Call List and to report scam and spam calls and texts to the FTC so they can take action. If you don’t think it makes a difference, think again. According to the FTC website:

The FTC has sued hundreds of companies and people responsible for unwanted calls, and has forced telemarketers making illegal calls to pay more than $100 million dollars in judgments. The FTC also brings enforcement actions against robocallers and has already stopped people responsible for billions of robocalls.

Now on to how to transcribe and translate calls.

This doesn’t require any special service, just the ability to play a voicemail on speakerphone and a microphone on your computer. I used the built-in microphone on my laptop and that worked perfectly.

  1. Go to Google Translate.
  2. Click on the microphone as shown in the image below to enable voice input. You may see a message pop up asking you to grant access to your microphone. Click allow.
  3. Test out the audio by speaking and ensure your voice is being detected and you see words show up in the input box as you talk. If it works as expected, click on the microphone to stop recording, then click on the X on the top right of the input box to clear the transcribed text (or highlight it all and delete).
  4. If you know the language your voicemail is in, select that language from the dropdown. Otherwise, select “detect language.”
  5. Open up to the voicemail on your phone and turn on speaker
  6. Click on the microphone in Google Translate
  7. Play the voicemail and watch the translation magic happen!
Click on the microphone as shown in the image below to enable voice input. You may see a message pop up asking you to grant access to your microphone. Click allow.
Click on the microphone as shown in the image below to enable voice input. You may see a message pop up asking you to grant access to your microphone. Click allow. Select the appropriate language or, if unknown, select “Detect Language.”

 

 

 

 

 

This is a screenshot of a voicemail transcribed and translated into English using Google Translate.
Here’s one of the voicemails I translated using this method. As you can see, the translation seems a bit strange, but I’m still able to understand the general message from the voicemail.