Google Translate learns 10 new African languages
Ten of the new language additions on Google translate are African languages including Lingala, Twi, and Tigrinya. There are now 133 languages supported by a technology that is breaking language barriers and connecting communities around the world.
Google has added 24 languages to its Google translate platform reaching a further 300 million people. The addition is a social one catering to speakers whose languages “aren’t represented in most technology” and a technical milestone in a machine learning model that learns to “translate into another language without ever seeing an example.”
The machine learning model although still developing is useful for languages where large datasets of human translations used to train a computer are not available.
“For many supported languages, even the largest languages in Africa that we have supported – say like Yoruba, Igbo, the translation is not great. It will definitely get the idea across but often it will lose much of the subtlety of the language,” Google Translate research scientist Isaac Caswell told the BBC.
Some notable additions are Mizo, used by around 800,000 people in the far northeast of India, Lingala, used by over 45 million people across Central Africa, Indigenous languages of the Americas (Quechua, Guarani, and Aymara), and an English dialect (Sierra Leonean Krio).
A complete list of the new languages now available are:
- Assamese, used by about 25 million people in Northeast India
- Aymara, used by about two million people in Bolivia, Chile, and Peru
- Bambara, used by about 14 million people in Mali
- Bhojpuri, used by about 50 million people in northern India, Nepal, and Fiji
- Dhivehi, used by about 300,000 people in the Maldives
- Dogri, used by about three million people in northern India
- Ewe, used by about seven million people in Ghana and Togo
- Guarani, used by about seven million people in Paraguay and Bolivia, Argentina, and Brazil
- Ilocano, used by about 10 million people in the northern Philippines
- Konkani, used by about two million people in Central India
- Krio, used by about four million people in Sierra Leone
- Kurdish (Sorani), used by about 15 million people in Iraq and Iran
- Lingala, used by about 45 million people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Republic of the Congo, Central African Republic, Angola, and the Republic of South Sudan
- Luganda, used by about 20 million people in Uganda and Rwanda
- Maithili, used by about 34 million people in northern India
- Meiteilon (Manipuri), used by about two million people in Northeast India
- Mizo, used by about 830,000 people in Northeast India
- Oromo, used by about 37 million people in Ethiopia and Kenya
- Quechua, used by about 10 million people in Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, and surrounding countries
- Sanskrit, used by about 20,000 people in India
- Sepedi, used by about 14 million people in South Africa
- Tigrinya, used by about eight million people in Eritrea and Ethiopia
- Tsonga, used by about seven million people in Eswatini, Mozambique, South Africa, and Zimbabwe
- Twi, used by about 11 million people in Ghana
On its website, the US-based company said, “We’re grateful to the many native speakers, professors, and linguists who worked with us on this latest update and kept us inspired with their passion and enthusiasm.”
To bridge existing gaps the company is calling for external contributors to help improve its translation capacity, “If you want to help us support your language in a future update, contribute evaluations or translations through Translate Contribute.”
Follow This Is Africa on Twitter and Facebook to join the conversation.