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"The SF approach: an awareness that things could have been different, that this is one of many possible worlds, that if you came to this world from some other planet, this would be a science fiction world."
- Neal Stephenson

Sound-Transposing Machine  
  A device that scans a printed page and reads it out loud.  

In this fascinating story, a child is lost within his own world. However, he makes symbols. Does he have his own secret language? And how can you hear it?

A great scientist is put to the test.

"I have done it," he said simply, "and you do not owe me a cent... In a month's time, tired people will be placing pages of a book in their machine and hear it read to them..."

Then an entire page of the lad's typing was run through the sound-transposing machine, purposely slowed so that the sounds could be differentiated.

From The Lost Language, by David H. Keller.
Published by Teck Publications in 1934
Additional resources -

Note the additional feature of being able to vary the speed at which the device reads the text.

Machine translation of foreign language was not theorized until the late 1940's, and was not tried until the late 1950's. As anyone who has ever used an OCR (optical character recognition) system in combination with a program that translates text into speech knows, we're still working on it.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from The Lost Language
  More Ideas and Technology by David H. Keller
  Tech news articles related to The Lost Language
  Tech news articles related to works by David H. Keller

Sound-Transposing Machine-related news articles:
  - K-NFB Portable Text To Speech

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Messaging Extraterrestrial Intelligence (METI) Workshop

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