Google Translate Blog
The official source for news on Google's translation technologies
Ten years of Google Translate
Thursday, April 28, 2016
Ten years ago, we launched Google Translate. Our goal was to break language barriers and to make the world more accessible. Since then we’ve grown from supporting two languages to 103, and from hundreds of users to hundreds of millions. And just like anyone’s first 10 years, we’ve learned to
see and understand
have a conversation
lean on friends for help
But what we're most inspired by is how Google Translate connects people in communities around the world, in ways we never could have imagined—like
two farmers with a shared passion for tomato farming
couple discovering they're pregnant in a foreign country
, and a
young immigrant on his way to soccer stardom
Here’s a look at Google Translate today, 10 years in:
1. Google Translate helps people make connections.
Translate can help people help each other, often in the most difficult of times. Recently we visited a community in Canada that is using Translate to break down barriers and make a refugee family feel more welcome:
2. There are more than 500 million of you using Google Translate.
The most common translations are between English and Spanish, Arabic, Russian, Portuguese and Indonesian.
3. Together we translate more than 100 billion words a day.
4. Translations reflect trends and events.
In addition to common phrases like “I love you,” we also see people looking for translations related to current events and trends. For instance, last year we saw a big spike in translations for the word "selfie,” and this past week, translations for "
" spiked by more than 25,000 percent.
5. You’re helping to make Google Translate better with Translate Community.
So far, 3.5 million people have made 90 million contributions through
, helping us improve and add new languages to Google Translate. A few properly translated sentences can make a huge difference when faced with a foreign language or country. By reviewing, validating and recommending translations, we’re able to improve the Google Translate on a daily basis.
6. Brazil uses Google Translate more than any other country.
Ninety-two percent of our translations come from outside of the United States, with Brazil topping the list.
7. You can see the world in your language.
Word Lens is your friend when reading menus, street signs and more. This feature in the Google Translate App lets you instantly see translations in
8. You can have a conversation no matter what language you speak.
In 2011, we first introduced the ability to have a
on Google Translate. The app will recognize which language is being spoken when you’re talking with someone, allowing you to have a natural conversation in
9. You don't need an Internet connection to connect.
Many countries don’t have reliable Internet, so it’s important to be able to translate on the go. You can instantly translate signs and menus
offline with Word Lens
on both Android and iOS, and translate typed text offline with
10. There's always more to translate.
We’re excited and proud of what we’ve accomplished together over the last 10 years—but there’s lots more to do to break language barriers and help people communicate no matter where they’re from or what language they speak. Thank you for using Google Translate—here’s to another 10!
Posted by Barak Turovsky, Product Lead, Google Translate
Translate Community, and Sietske Poepjes, help add Frisian to Google Translate
Friday, February 26, 2016
Last week, we introduced
13 new languages
to Google Translate. As we mentioned, there are a number of factors that go into adding a new language: once it’s established that it’s a written language with a significant amount of translations available on the web, we use a combination of machine learning, licensed content and input from Translate Community. One language where Translate Community played an especially big role was Frisian.
Today, we’re speaking with Sietske Poepjes, a member of the Frisian community who recently helped to organize a Translate Community event. Thanks to Sietske and the community's support, we were able to get enough data to officially add Frisian to Google Translate. The interview gives an overview of what went into Sietske’s community effort and how you can get involved.
What’s your job and title?
I'm a provincial deputy on language and education in the province of Fryslân. Fryslân is one of the twelve provinces in The Netherlands. It’s the only province with an official language other than Dutch, namely: Frisian.
Why is it important to add the Frisian language to Google Translate?
Frisian is the second official language in the Netherlands and is the mother language of more than half of the population of the province of Fryslân. Most people in Fryslân are able to understand or speak the language, but not a lot of people are able to write it at a high level (only 15%). With most of our education taking place in Dutch, Google Translate can be used as a tool for those who can’t write the Frisian language sufficiently.
Besides, it’s important for lesser used languages like Frisian to be used digitally. Being one of the languages in Google Translate also enhances the visibility of the language and allows people throughout the world to translate to and from the language.
So you organized Frisian Google Translate Week last year -- what motivated you to organize the event?
To add Frisian to Google Translate, we knew we needed a lot of data. Since there wasn’t sufficient material available both in the Frisian and English language, Translate Community could help. To get everyone involved, the province of Fryslân decided to organise a central week in which everyone is asked to participate. The idea was that working together in the same week, we would motivate people to contribute even more. This has definitely paid out; thousands of people participated, resulting in nearly a million translated words!
Translate Community event.
How did you set up the event? Who did you work with?
As the province of Fryslân, we coordinated the event with educational and scientific organisations and libraries, and received lots of support. The organisations invited employees, members, students or other interested people to come along and translate with them on a certain day/time. This turned out to work really well. One example: the Frisian department of the University of Groningen (which is outside of Fryslân) organised a reunion with former students and teachers and together they translated thousands of words.
We also organised an opening session which was the official start of the entire week and invited school children to help open the festival with their own song. At this opening session an introduction to Google Translate presentation was given by a Google Netherlands representative.
We provided hand-outs and made a training video on YouTube to guide people on how to navigate on Translate Community site and make contributions. We also created a commercial video (with famous Frisians), broadcast on the regional television “Omrop Fryslân”, which turned out to be very influential.
How did you motivate the participants?
We relied on social media. We created our own Facebook event for people to join and asked all of the organisations involved to use their own social media to share our messages and calls for everyone to contribute. Participants could make a screenshot showing their number of contributions made, to share on Facebook. We gave the participant with the most contributions a Google Translate cake.
How did the Frisian week go? Any memorable moments?
The Frisian Google Translate Week became a huge success. A lot of Frisians participated, resulting in a whopping one million translated words at the end of the week. The total number of translations was revealed at a national festival for languages. It was amazing to see the amount of publicity we gained and to see that so many people were interested in our event. It was even broadcast in the Dutch news at prime time.
What’s the impact of the event? What are people’s reactions?
We saw the need for Google Translate, as we received a lot of feedback and questions from people who wanted to know when Frisian would be available in Google Translate.
The most impressive thing of the whole Frisian Google Translate Week is the commitment of all Frisians (in and outside the province of Fryslân). So many people participated and everyone felt the need to join and start translating. The Frisian community worked together to achieve a goal.
Have you worked on any follow up efforts?
Yes! We have organized a validation session. In this session, we have reached Frisian experts and gathered in the local provincial library to work together on validating the translations. It worked out really well, again the sense of community was very strong. And to thank everyone who participated in the Frisian Google Translate Week and the validation session, we organized a celebration party. It was a really nice party with a spectacular multilingual musical performance from the Frisian band ‘De Kast’. Their number-1 hit “De nije dei” (The new day) was performed with the lyrics in Dutch translated by Google Translate in the background. There were also secondary school pupils showing the use and work of Frisian in Google Translate to all guests.
, who performed songs in Frisian, Dutch and English with the meaning shown in other languages on the screen through Translate.
Any advice for future event organizers?
We think it is very important to communicate about the value of Google Translate for the language, it improves the visibility of the language, and it offers speakers of the language a very helpful and easy-to-use digital tool. It shows the vitality of the language, which is especially important for small languages such as Frisian. Second, we think it is important to cooperate with the local organisations for a sense of community. And last but not least: we have made a nice event of it. It was great fun!
If you would like to help improve Google Translate and organize Translate Community events for your language,
Posted by Mengmeng Niu, Program Manager, Google Translate
From Amharic to Xhosa, introducing Translate in 13 new languages -- now over 100 in total!
Wednesday, February 17, 2016
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
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,
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.
Before you dive into translating, here are a few fun facts about the new languages:
Amharic (Ethiopia) is the second most widely spoken Semitic language after Arabic
Corsican (Island of Corsica, France) is closely related to Italian and was Napoleon's first language
Frisian (Netherlands and Germany) is the native language of over half the inhabitants of the Friesland province of the Netherlands
Kyrgyz (Kyrgyzstan) is the language of the Epic of Manas, which is 20x longer than the Iliad and the Odyssey put together
Hawaiian (Hawaii) has lent several words to the English language, such as ukulele and wiki
Kurdish (Kurmanji) (Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria) is written with Latin letters while the others two varieties of Kurdish are written with Arabic script
Luxembourgish (Luxembourg) completes the list of official EU languages Translate covers
Samoan (Samoa and American Samoa) is written using only 14 letters
Scots Gaelic (Scottish highlands, UK) was introduced by Irish settlers in the 4th century AD
Shona (Zimbabwe) is the most widely spoken of the hundreds of languages in the Bantu family
Sindhi (Pakistan and India) was the native language of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the "Father of the Nation” of Pakistan
Pashto (Afghanistan and Pakistan) is written in Perso-Arabic script with an additional 12 letters, for a total of 44
Xhosa (South Africa) is the second most common native language in the country after Afrikaans and features three kinds of clicks, represented by the letters x, q and c
We’ve come a long way with over 100 languages, but we aren’t done yet. If you want to help, International Mother Language day — just around the corner on February 21 — is a great time to get involved in
. To start, just select the languages you speak; then choose to either translate phrases on your own or validate existing translations. Every contribution helps improve the quality of translation over time. You can also share feedback directly from
, so as you try out the new languages, we’d love to hear your suggestions.
For each new language, we make our translations better over time, both by improving our algorithms and systems and by learning from your translations with Translate Community. Today's update will be rolling out over the coming days.
No matter what language you speak, we hope today’s update makes it easier to communicate with millions of new friends and break language barriers one conversation at a time.
Posted by Sveta Kelman, Senior Program Manager, Google Translate
Translate Community: Over one million people and 50 million contributions
Monday, December 28, 2015
Over the past year, more than one million people speaking 117 languages have made 50 million contributions through the
Google Translate Community
With those contributions we’ve launched 10 new languages, including Chichewa (Chinyanja) and Malayalam (മലയാളം), and been able to make improvements in how we speak dozens of other languages. Now almost 50% of the most common phrases typed in Google Translate come from translations provided by the
Translate Community members come from all over the world and translate in many different ways - from translating on their own to hosting group events. This year, Bengali speakers worked together to host
events throughout the country
by partnering with schools and cultural groups. And Frisian speakers worked with their government to create
a week of events
dedicated to getting their language added to Google Translate.
This month, language lovers are participating in a
Translatathon in India
. With just a few more days to go, if you speak Hindi, Bengali, Telugu, Marathi, Tamil, Gujarati, Kannada, Malayalam or Punjabi,
sign up today
to help Google Translate deliver better translations in your community.
Posted by Mengmeng Niu, Translate Community Program Manager
India’s second Translatathon needs you!
Tuesday, December 22, 2015
Sometimes language isn’t straightforward. Only a Hindi speaker could tell you that although ऊँट के मुँह में जीरा may literally mean ‘cumin seed in a camel's mouth’, it actually means ‘a drop in the ocean’ or something too insufficient to fulfill a need.
There are 22 official languages in India. And while Google Translate can help you with nine of them at the moment, languages that are under-represented on the Internet like Bengali, Telugu, and Tamil could use a little help. This is where people who are passionate about their native languages can use the Translate Community tool to make a big difference.
We’ve just kicked off our second translatathon in India, this time for nine languages — Hindi, Bengali, Telugu, Marathi, Tamil, Gujarati, Kannada, Malayalam and Punjabi. You can use Google Translate Community on your phone, laptop or computer. Just type, swipe or tap translations in the languages you speak. You have the option to either translate phrases directly, or validate existing translations.
Last year 20,000 people contributed over one million new Hindi translations, helping improve the overall quality of Hindi content online. We’re now including all the Indic languages that Google Translate is available in, and we look forward to seeing how people from around the world can help Google say जंगल में मोर नाचा किस ने देखा? or আপনার পায়ে কুড়ল মারা more accurately. Millions of people in India are coming online for the first time and most of them don’t speak English. Bringing more Indian language content online, and improving Indian language translation quality, will help them have a better experience on the Web.
Validate phrases with the Google Translate Community tool
Once you join the translatathon, you can Translate and validate words and short phrases up until December 30. We will then reward the 50 most active and accurate contributors with an Android One phone*.
So why not stop by and say नमस्ते, নমস্কার, வணக்கம் and help India showcase the beauty and diversity of languages online. Register and participate at g.co/translatathon and thanks in advance for your help. You’re making the web better for everyone.
*Terms and conditions apply:
Posted by Barak Turovsky, Product Lead, Google Translate
Monday, October 19, 2015
We’re always amazed by the power of technology to connect people. Not long ago we
a story involving the
Google Translate app
and a boy named Alberto who had recently moved from Spain to a small town in Northern Ireland, with little knowledge of English. When Alberto joined Portadown’s youth soccer club, his coaches Gary and Glen turned to Google Translate to communicate with Alberto and his mother, on and off the field. As they progressed from
protección de la pelota
retroceso de bicicleta
, Alberto grew to feel a part of the team.
We loved this story (and wanted to share it with you) because what Gary and Glen did was so much bigger than translating sentences from one language into another. They didn’t just find a way to coach Alberto in football—they found a way to invite someone who was on the outside into their community.
Posted by Barak Turovsky, Product Lead, Google Translate
Two new Translate features coming your way
Wednesday, October 14, 2015
We’re all about breaking language barriers, whatever language you speak or device you use. So with that in mind, over the next week, we’ll be rolling out two new Google Translate app features— instantly translating both English and German to Arabic and easier multitasking for iPad users.
See the world in a new language with instant visual translation
You can already have bilingual conversations from English or German to Arabic thanks to the conversation mode or text input in the Google Translate app. Today, we’re also adding the ability to translate printed text instantly between these languages.
To use instant visual translation, just open the app, click on the camera, and point it at the text you need to translate. You’ll see the text transform from one language to another in real-time on your screen. And the best part? There’s no Internet connection or cell phone data needed.
To try out Arabic with either English or German you'll be prompted to download a small (~2 MB) language pack.
Split View translations with the newest iPads
Starting today, customers using iPads supporting Split View will be able to use Google Translate along with the new feature. So if you’re sending an email or text and need to translate, you can see both apps at the same time. And it even works with text from online books or websites.
Whether you’re starting a new bi-lingual conversation on your iPad or using instant visual translation to find your way, Google Translate helps you see the world in your language. With today’s updates, we hope that we’re able to continue to help and give more translation options to the 500 million people using Google Translate to see over 100 billion words a day in their language.
Posted by Barak Turovsky, Product Lead, Google Translate
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