It’s incredible how much Google Translate has evolved over its decade of existence. It’s helped people translate numerous websites, understand what other people are saying and more recently started mediating conversations with foreign people in real time.
Holidays in exotic destinations have become a lot more enjoyable thanks to Google’s translation service, particularly because the company has tried to cover most of the major languages used around the world. You can also translate texts – and pictures of texts – even if you’re not connected to the Internet.
But they’re not done. According to the most recent announcement, Google Translate can now work with more than 100 languages. It’s a new kind of milestone that Google’s online tool marks as it approaches its 10th anniversary.
After adding these 13 new languages, the service now includes 103 language databases. Even though they are nowhere nearly as ubiquitous as English, Chinese or Arabic, these new languages help Google become less discriminative.
Kurdish – spoken by approximately 36 million across Turkey, Iraq, Syria and other countries – and Hawaiian are among the new additions. Google claims that after the most recent update, the service inaugurated in April 2006, can be useful to 99 percent of the online population.
The idea behind Google Translate was first thought of in 2004, when Sergey Brin, co-founder of the company, became frustrated with a translation program Google was licensing. Apparently, the service has translated a Korean email into “The sliced raw fish shoes it wishes. Google green onion thing!”
In order to avoid ridiculous translations and make sure they are as accurate as possible, Google Translate now uses both human volunteers and machine learning. It’s a whole complicated yet well-oiled system behind the service.
According to the latest announcement on the Google Translate Blog, adding a new language is quite a complex process. In order for it to be “eligible” for the service, it must have “a significant amount of translations in the new language” already posted online.
That way, those texts can offer a basis for the machine learning to apply their algorithms on. At the same time, there’s an entire community of more than 3 million volunteers who suggest new words and correct translations.
The new additions to Google Translation’s “dictionary” are Amharic (spoken in Ethiopia), Frisian (Germany and the Netherlands), Corsican, Hawaiian, Kurdish, Samoan, Kyrgyz, Luxembourgish, Sindhi (India and Pakistan), Scots Gaelic, Shona (Zimbabwe), Pashto (Pakistan and Afghanistan); and Xhosa (South Africa).
Image Source: Kent