Google Announces Major Expansion of Language Translator

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Google on Tuesday announced a major expansion of its language translator, Google Translate with additional 110 new languages to the platform.

Google Translate is a multilingual neural machine translation service developed by Google to translate text, documents and websites from one language into another.

Taiwo Kola-Ogunlade, Communications and Public Affairs Manager for West Africa at Google, said in a statement, that this update is part of Google’s 1,000 Languages Initiative.

Kola-Ogunlade said that the initiative uses AI models to support the 1,000 most spoken languages around the world which represents a significant step towards breaking down language barriers and fostering communication across diverse cultures.

He said that the new inclusions included eight languages from across Africa, which now join Nigerian languages Hausa, Igbo, Yoruba, Fulani, Kanuri, and Tiv, which were already supported by Google Translate.

According to him, Google mission is to enable everyone, everywhere to understand the world and express themselves across languages.

‘’With the addition of these 110 new languages, including many from Africa, we’re opening up new opportunities for over half a billion people to connect and communicate.

’’Africa with its rich linguistic diversity is a key focus of this expansion,’’ he said

According to him, the addition of numerous African languages underscores Google’s commitment to supporting under represented languages and amplifying voices from across the continent.

Kola-Ogunlade said that a lot of consideration had gone into the new language additions for Google Translate, ranging from which languages to include to the use of specific spellings.

He said that many languages do not have a single, standard form, so learning the specific dialect that is spoken the most in an area is more feasible.

“Our approach has been to prioritise the most commonly used varieties of each language.”

According to him, 110 new languages represent over 614 million speakers worldwide, covering around 8 per cent of the world’s population.

He said that this includes major world languages with over 100 million speakers, languages spoken by small Indigenous communities, and languages undergoing revitalisation efforts.

Kola-Ogunlade, however highlighted languages supported by Google Translate as kikongo, middle Africa, Luo, Swati, Venda in East Africa, Fon, Wolof in West Africa, Swati, Ndebele in South Africa, among others.

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