Google Translate squeaks out Swahili and Afrikaans

I read the Google Africa blog whenever there is new content, which honestly, isn’t that often. For some reason, the fact that their Google Translate can now translate between all its current languages as well as Swahili and Afrikaans hasn’t been mentioned there. I mean, this is huge! This is great! This is… reported on an unofficial Google blog?
I assume that a bigger announcement must be coming soon and they’re just checking to make sure that all the conditionals are closed in the code before letting everyone know. For instance, three days ago, before the Afrikaans option was in there, I actually had to translate something from Afrikaans to English. I used Dutch for the source language option and magically, it translated fine, which it shouldn’t have given the dialectic drift from Dutch at Afrikaans. I can only assume that Google Translate auto-detected the language as Afrikaans, which was lurking somewhere in the background.
There are implications with this that go above and beyond a simple announcement, specifically for Swahili. A year ago, I talked with some of the guys who work on Google’s linguistic endeavors and they told me that the required corpus for Swahili machine translation was at 40% of what was needed and that was the highest for any African language. This means that in the last year, there was either a huge batch of pages in Swahili which Google had missed or there was a 250% increase in the amount of Swahili text available on the web. I’m guessing it’s some combination of both as well as Google paying something get a dictionary in there because Google really wants to get established in Africa.
Whatever the case, it’s quite excellent news for languages in Africa as these are the first two African languages to be included in this system. If you create the tools, you grow the language. Here’s to more and soon, although I don’t know what this is going to mean to the Kamusi Project
And now apparently the Google Africa Blog has decided to write about this over a week after the fact. I feel so incredibly ahead of things right now.
Google Translate squeaks out Swahili and Afrikaans

2 Replies to “Google Translate squeaks out Swahili and Afrikaans”

  1. That’s great news! It’s a great step forward for humanity. Just wonderful. Thanks.

    Simba.

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