The world’s favorite online translation tool, Google Translate, would be ten this year. And to mark its decade of existence, the Google Translate added 13 new languages to the data base. Google Translate now has 103 languages. This, according to the Google Translate team, covers 99% of the online community.
Conceptualized by Google founder Sergey Brin in 2004 after he was frustrated by the inadequacy of an online translation tool, the service is now very advanced. It uses a combination of machine learning and human volunteers to ensure translations are reasonable and it’s as good as the original text in both meaning and context. To help in the online translation, Google employs thee million volunteers to suggest new words and improve on texts.
Announcing the new landmark in a blog post, Sveta Kelman, Senior Program Manager at Google translate said,
”In 2006, we started with machine learning-based translations between English and Arabic, Chinese and Russian. Almost 10 years later, with today’s update, we now offer 103 languages that cover 99% of the online population. The 13 new languages — Amharic, Corsican, Frisian, Kyrgyz, Hawaiian, Kurdish (Kurmanji), Luxembourgish, Samoan, Scots Gaelic, Shona, Sindhi, Pashto and Xhosa — help bring a combined 120 million new people to the billions who can already communicate with Translate all over the world.
So what goes into adding a new language? Beyond the basic criteria that it must be a written language, we also need a significant amount of translations in the new language to be available on the web. From there, we use a combination of machine learning, licensed content and Translate Community.”
Most people I know use Google Translate to translate whole texts or essays from one language to another. I do that a lot too, especially these days where opening a Chinese website has become commonplace. Some of these websites don’t have the decency to build an English version of their website. So my only choice is to use Google Translate.
That is why I can state confidently that Google Translate is far from perfect. What you get as your translated text is sometimes very ridiculous and doesn’t make sense. Well Sergey Brin, the dream you had 10 years ago of giving us a very decent translation tool is still a work in progress.
But for the fun of it, I decided to test the online tool with easy translations of words and common phrases. I used my first language, Hausa, for the test. After the test, I can confidently say that Google Translate is a useful tool. That is, if you restrict yourself to simple words and common phrases.
Here is wishing Google Translate all the best as they celebrate a decade in existence. Please, concentrate on Chinese to English translations. The Chinese are taking over the world. I want to know how they are doing it.