By 2030, the language barrier was behind us, and knowledge of foreign languages was no longer a job requirement. The universal translator successfully handles speech recognition and simultaneous interpreting with a delay of less than one second and close to 100% accuracy. Many simultaneous interpreters are out of a job, although important talks are still entrusted to experienced human pros. The universal translator is basically a small earpiece equipped with a speaker and microphone, connected to your smartphone via a wireless link. The device is called “Babel Fish” in honor of a creature from Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. In the book, the Babel fish is a small, yellow, leech-like fish inserted in the ear, where it interprets speech telepathically.
The “fish” is most commonly used by tourists — the days of getting lost in a strange city are no more, since it’s always possible to ask for directions (although geopositioning also makes it hard to lose your way). By 2040, the universal translator covered around 50 of the most widely spoken languages in the world.
Oddly enough, students and schoolchildren continue to learn foreign languages: either in preparation for a post-nuclear apocalypse, or simply to read poetry in the original. People fluent in foreign languagesare considered intellectuals, although behind their backs some call them old-fashioned.