Google Translate more Indian Languages Tamil, Telugu, Bengali, Gujarati and Kannada

Beginning today, you can explore the linguistic diversity of the Indian sub-continent with Google Translate, which now supports five new experimental alpha languages: Bengali, Gujarati, Kannada, Tamil and Telugu. In India and Bangladesh alone, more than 500 million people speak these five languages. Since 2009, we’ve launched a total of 11 alpha languages, bringing the current number of languages supported by Google Translate to 63.

Indic languages differ from English in many ways, presenting several exciting challenges when developing their respective translation systems. Indian languages often use the Subject Object Verb (SOV) ordering to form sentences, unlike English, which uses Subject Verb Object (SVO) ordering. This difference in sentence structure makes it harder to produce fluent translations; the more words that need to be reordered, the more chance there is to make mistakes when moving them. Tamil, Telugu and Kannada are also highly agglutinative, meaning a single word often includes affixes that represent additional meaning, like tense or number. Fortunately, our research to improve Japanese (an SOV language) translation helped us with the word order challenge, while our work translating languages like German, Turkish and Russian provided insight into the agglutination problem.

You can expect translations for these new alpha languages to be less fluent and include many more untranslated words than some of our more mature languages—like Spanish or Chinese—which have much more of the web content that powers our statistical machine translation approach. Despite these challenges, we release alpha languages when we believe that they help people better access the multilingual web. If you notice incorrect or missing translations for any of our languages, please correct us; we enjoy learning from our mistakes and your feedback helps us graduate new languages from alpha status. If you’re a translator, you’ll also be able to take advantage of our machine translated output when using the Google Translator Toolkit.

Since these languages each have their own unique scripts, we’ve enabled a transliterated input method for those of you without Indian language keyboards. For example, if you type in the word “nandri,” it will generate the Tamil word நன்றி (see what it means). To see all these beautiful scripts in action, you’ll need to install fonts* for each language.

We hope that the launch of these new alpha languages will help you better understand the Indic web and encourage the publication of new content in Indic languages, taking us five alpha steps closer to a web without language barriers.

*Download the fonts for each language: Tamil, Telugu, Bengali, Gujarati and Kannada.

Posted by Ashish Venugopal, Research Scientist

Google Translate, Now With Voice Input

Google Chrome 11 added support for HTML speech input API. “With this API, developers can give web apps the ability to transcribe your voice to text. When a web page uses this feature, you simply click on an icon and then speak into your computer’s microphone. The recorded audio is sent to speech servers for transcription, after which the text is typed out for you.”

Google Translate is the first Google service that uses this feature. If you use Google Chrome 11 Beta, Google Chrome 12 Dev/Canary or a recent Chromium build and visit Google Translate, you can click the voice input icon. Right now, this feature only works for English, so you need to select “English” from the list of input languages.

Unfortunately, the results aren’t great. I tried to translate “beautiful sunshine” into French, but the speech-to-text engine didn’t work properly and Google had to translate “wake up beautiful sunshine girl”.

{ Thanks, Kalin. }

Google Translate App for iPhone

Yet another Google app initially developed for Android makes its way onto the Apple App Store: Google Translate. It doesn’t have all the features of the Android app: there’s no conversation mode, no SMS translation, Google Suggest or a list of related phrases. Another issue is that the font size is way too big.

The application has a feature that’s not available in the Android app: full-screen mode, so it doesn’t make sense to use a such a big font size which is not even configurable. Google says that “the ability to easily enlarge the translated text to full-screen size” makes it “much easier to read the text on the screen, or show the translation to the person you are communicating with. Just tap on the zoom icon to quickly zoom in.”

Why would you use the native application instead of visiting The native application supports voice input for 15 languages, text-to-speech for 23 languages and it’s better suited for quickly switching between multiple languages.

{ via Google Mobile Blog }

New look for Google Translate for Android

Today, Google is refreshing Translate for Android with several updates to make the app easier to interact with. Among other improvements, we’ve created better dropdown boxes to help select the languages you want to translate from and into, an improved input box, and cleaner icons and layout.

We also want to let you in on an experimental feature that’s still in its earliest stages—Conversation Mode. This is a new interface within Google Translate that’s optimized to allow you to communicate fluidly with a nearby person in another language. You may have seen an early demo a few months ago, and today you can try it yourself on your Android device.

Currently, you can only use Conversation Mode when translating between English and Spanish. In conversation mode, simply press the microphone for your language and start speaking. Google Translate will translate your speech and read the translation out loud. Your conversation partner can then respond in their language, and you’ll hear the translation spoken back to you. Because this technology is still in alpha, factors like regional accents, background noise or rapid speech may make it difficult to understand what you’re saying. Even with these caveats, we’re excited about the future promise of this technology to be able to help people connect across languages.

As Android devices have spread across the globe, we’ve seen Translate for Android used all over. The majority of our usage now comes from outside the United States, and we’ve seen daily usage from more than 150 countries, from Malaysia to Mexico to Mozambique. It’s really rewarding for us to see how this new platform is helping us break down language barriers the world over.

Translate supports 53 languages, from Afrikaans to Yiddish, and voice input for 15 languages. You can download the application, available for devices running Android 2.1 and above, by searching for “Google Translate” in Android Market or by scanning the QR Code below.

Posted by Awaneesh Verma, Product Manager


Google Translate Shows Alternate Translations

No translation is perfect, and that’s especially true for a machine translation service like Google Translate. From now on, when you translate a text using Google Translate and Google finds some reliable alternate translations, you can pick one of them.

“Just click the translated phrase and you’ll see a pop-up menu of possible alternates for that phrase, as well as the original phrase highlighted in your original text. Not only can these alternative translations give you a better understanding of a confusing translation, but they also allow you to help Google choose the best alternative when we make a mistake,” explains Google.

It’s interesting to notice that the new feature helps you better understand the technology behind Google Translate. “Typically, when we produce a translation, our system searches through millions of possible translations, selecting the best — that is, the most statistically likely — translation. With this feature, we expose more of those possible alternatives.”

Right now, Google only shows alternate translations when you try to translate a text, so this doesn’t work for web pages.

Google Translate’s Beatbox Easter Egg

Last month, a Reddit user found an unexpected way to use Google Translate: as a beatbox.

1) Go to Google Translate
2) Set the translator to translate German to German
3) Copy + paste the following into the translate box: pv zk pv pv zk pv zk kz zk pv pv pv zk pv zk zk pzk pzk pvzkpkzvpvzk kkkkkk bsch
4) Click “listen”
5) Be amazed 🙂

You could also use this permalink, but it’s less exciting. There are many other variations you could try.

Google decided to make it more obvious that this is an Easter egg by replacing “Listen” with “Beatbox”.

Google Translate Adds Support for Latin

Google Translate is the first important machine translation service that supports Latin. Google says that thousands of books that are available in Google Book Search include Latin passages and the machine translation service has been trained using texts that are already translated.

The results aren’t great and it will be difficult to improve them, but it’s still an interesting experiment. Here’s an example of translation:

“Translating by machine from Latin is difficult and our grasp of grammar not without error. The Latin is unmatched because most of them Latin books have already been written and only a few of the new shall be hereafter. Many have been translated into other languages and these translations we use to train our translation system. Since this system translates books well similar to those from whom he learned, our ability to translate famous books (such as The Gallic War Caesar ‘s) is already good.”

Google Translate’s Conversation Mode

Google has recently demoed a new feature that will make Google Translate a lot more useful: conversation mode. Instead of typing the text you want to translate, you can just speak it and Google will convert speech into text, translate the text and use text-to-speech to output the result. You can already do that if you install the Google Translate app from the Android Market. Conversation mode lets you quickly switch between two languages, so that two people can have a conversation even if they speak different languages.

“Google showed off a new application that translates conversations on Android mobiles at a recent conference in Germany. Google employees held a conversation over two Android mobiles with one person speaking German and the other English. The application worked its magic after each persons statement and then referred the translated message back to the other person,” reported Simon Thomas.

Unfortunately, the results aren’t always great. Google Translate’s conversation mode will be released in a few months.

{ spotted by François Beaufort }

Share your story with the new Google Translate

Google is currently rolling out several changes globally to our look and feel that should make translating text, webpages and documents on Google Translate even easier. These changes will be available globally within a couple of days.

Google Translate’s shiny new coat of paint

With today’s functional and visual changes we wanted to make it simpler for you to discover and make the most of Google Translate’s many features and integrations. For example, did you know that you can search across languages on Google using Google Translate? Or that you can translate incoming email in Gmail or take Google Translate with you on your phone? We’ve added all these tips on the new Do more with Google Translate page. You can also see some of these tips rotating on the new homepage.

We’ve also created an Inside Google Translate page, where you can learn how we create our translations. Is it the work of magic elves or learned linguists? Here Anton Andryeyev, an engineer on our team, gives you the inside scoop:

It’s always inspiring for us to learn how Google Translate enables people to break down communication barriers around the world. Lisa J. recently shared with us how she uses Google Translate to stay in touch with her grandparents. “I moved to the U.S. from China when I was six,” Lisa told us, “so I speak both English and Chinese fluently but I’m not very good at reading the complex Chinese alphabet.” When she gets an email from her grandparents in China, Google Translate helps her understand the sentences she can’t quite read. She also uses Google Translate when she’s writing her response. “I use Google Translate to make sure I’m using the right character in the right place,” she explained.

Do you use Google Translate to stay in touch with distant relatives? Read foreign news? Or make the most of your vacation? We’d love to hear from you, and invite you to share your story with us. Who knows, we might feature your story on the Google Translate blog!

Posted by Awaneesh Verma

Google Tests a New Interface for Google Translate

Garrid Lou spotted a new user interface for Google Translate, which shows examples of news sites that can be translated and other Google products that use Google Translate. The new interface replaces the long drop-down of languages with a multi-column list and moves the translated text to the right.

{ via }