Google has really been busy on the language side of things lately. This wouldn’t be news to anyone except translators and multilingual folks except for the fact that they introduced more African languages to their mix of available languages for translation and so it’s suddenly become a good deal more important for Africa as it is boosting cross-communication abilities on many fronts.
First off is the new Google Translate. I use this system quite often, so I noticed right away when they made the switchover a couple of days ago. There were some bumps in the transition which I’m assuming were due to the work being done at off peak hours in the US, but very much on peak hours for those of us on UTC or UTC+1.
In general, I like the new format. It’s definitely snappier overall for quick translations. What I don’t like is that it’s quite heavily AJAX driven (as are most things these days) and I’m curious as to how well it would perform in a low bandwidth setting. I’m hoping that someone can give that a go as try as I might to throttle my connection, I can’t seem to get it to downscale to to point where I feel is properly representative of a low bandwidth connection.
Something that’s also rather new is the speaking voice for English target translations. This is really quite important as the English alphabet is complete garbage when it comes to writing how the language is spoken and I’m sure that non-English speakers will get no end of enjoyment out of wondering how on earth through, threw, and thru all sound the same. What would be nice is that in addition to the Roman alphabet transliteration for languages like Chinese is if they did this for English as well…
Oh course the big news in translation land are the automatic captions for YouTube. These are huge and quite frankly, it’s about time that a major video platform finally added in some proper subcaptioning abilities. Sadly, it will probably mean the death of dotSUB which is a platform that I like to varying degrees, but it’s easy to understand why people were lax to add in subtitles as it was a great deal of work to create and then translate the text. Google takes the approach of “machine bash in to shape. human refine. everyone love.” and I think that it will work quite well overall. Obviously once they fully deploy the system and people start to use it more, we’ll see it refined a great deal. But it’s good that Google’s YouTube brand has finally started making good use of the Google abilities such as machine translation.
My only wish is that Vimeo would do something similar and maybe because of this, they will. Honestly, they should just buy out dotSUB or something to that effect. Their interface, video quality, and overall ease of use if vastly superior to YouTube with YouTube being kinda like a Spanish croissant in that it’s okay overall, but once you dig in to it, it kinda sucks a great deal…