June 10, 2012

Translation Tools Geared for Less-Spoken Languages Could Help Maintain Them

From http://www.technologyreview.com/news/428093/translation-tools-could-save-less-used-languages

Translation Tools Could Save Less-Used Languages
Languages that aren't used online risk being left behind. New translation technology from Google and Microsoft could help them catch up.
By Tom Simonite
June 6, 2012

Millions of people around the world speak languages that are still barely represented online, despite widespread Internet access and improving translation technology.

Web giants Microsoft and Google are trying to change that with new translation technology aimed at languages that are being left behind—or perhaps even being actively killed off—by the Web.

Microsoft and Google's existing translation tools, which are free, are a triumph of big data. Instead of learning as a human translator would, by studying the rules of different languages, a translation tool's algorithms learn how to translate one language into another by statistically comparing thousands or millions of online documents that have been translated by humans.

The two companies have both departed from that formula slightly to serve less popular languages. Google was able to recently launch experimental "alpha" support for a collection of five Indian languages (Bengali, Gujarati, Kannada, Tamil, and Telugu) by giving its software some direct lessons in grammar, while Microsoft has released a service that allows a community to build a translation system for its own language by supplying its own source material.

Read the full article at http://www.technologyreview.com/news/428093/translation-tools-could-save-less-used-languages

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