In a post made this morning on the Google Translate Blog, the service announced that 13 new languages have been added to the service. That brings the total number of languages to 103 and makes the app and service the closest thing to a Star Trek-esque Universal Translator out there today.
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.
It is exciting to see the growth of this service that allows people across borders and language barriers to easily and quickly communicate.
The 13 new languages offered in Translate are Amharic, Corsican, Frisian, Kyrgyz, Hawaiian, Kurdish (Kurmanji), Luxembourgish, Samoan, Scots Gaelic, Shona, Sindhi, Pashto and Xhosa. Google estimates that this will bring an additional 120 million people into the scope of communication for the app, adding to the population of billions who can already use it.
In the post, Google also outlines some of the work that goes into getting a translation complete. It is a combination of machine learning but also input from users in translation communities and
As we scan the Web for billions of already translated texts, we use machine learning to identify statistical patterns at enormous scale, so our machines can “learn” the language. But, as already existing documents can’t cover the breadth of a language, we also rely on people like you in Translate Community to help improve current Google Translate languages and add new ones, like Frisian and Kyrgyz. So far, over 3 million people have contributed approximately 200 million translated words.
It is a powerful combination of tools that bring these languages to the service and with user input, somewhat becomes a community project.
The announcement today highlights that these new languages are available today. Expect it to roll out over the course of the day. For the Google Translate app however, it may require an app update which was not announced. In the past when new languages were available, the Android app had to be updated too. I’m suspecting this is the case this time too but that’s not official just yet.