Since setting up the Translation Assistant on this site, I’ve been chomping at the bit for more Google functions in more African languages as the Assistant only functions in the Colonial languages of Africa. That bums me out, man. According to folks at the ‘Plex, the only one that’s close is Swahili and the body of text needed for full-blown machine translation is only at around 40% completed or so. That’s with a pretty decent blogging scene in Swahili as well as a Wikipedia in Swahili with about 11,000+ entries. So, you can just imagine how it is with other languages on the continent… That also bums me out, man, but there is hope.
Today Google announced one small step in the right direction to get more Swahili functionality on Google’s systems. This is just the “search suggestion” tool and all told, it’s a small thing. But, this is only the second African language to get this functionality; the first being Amharic at the start of this year. Yeah, I know, it’s not machine translation, but it’s something and as I’m working with two translators on a full-blown Lingala and Fula version of Maneno, it’s nice to know that a big, mighty company such as Google is putting forth even the tiniest bit of effort to show that they are interested in such things. It’s these such things that might help them win against the encroaching big blue monster.
One small side note in that folks should notice that in addition to the standard French translation that appears after the English, there is also a translation in Swahili. I’ve been really curious to know if the French and Swahili are just machine generated versions or done by someone who actually speaks the language. Anybody have feedback on that?
One small Swahili step at a time