Photo detail

In this April 4, 2013 photograph, Colton Smith, 10, left, uses a combination of some basic Chinese and English sign languages with his mother, Niki Smith, center, to communicate with their family's newest member, 14-year-old Guan Ya, in their Rienzi, Miss., home. Although the Smiths and their three other children are using the Google Translate program to communicate almost exclusively with Guan Ya, who is deaf, the children use a variety of signs as well. The family uses iPhones, iPods and a laptop, all loaded with the program to write in either English that translates to Chinese or vice versa.

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You might use Google Translate to read a hard-to-find Manga comic book or to decipher an obscure recipe for authentic Polish blintzes. Or, like Phillip and Niki Smith in rural Mississippi, you could use it to rescue a Chinese orphan and fall in love at the same time.

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