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Have you ever slashed the wind with your friends? Attached a gold leaf to the back of a Buddha statue? Or caught the moon in your hands?

You probably have, but if you don’t speak Vietnamese, Thai or Bengali you probably called it something else. These are some phrases Google Translate learned to understand a little better during the first of a series of translate-a-thons held over the last month in Bangladesh, Myanmar, Vietnam and Thailand, part of a “Love your Language” project to get languages better represented on the Web. (For those playing at home, the Vietnamese call it slashing the wind when they gossip, the Thais say they attach a gold leaf to the back of a Buddha statue when they do something selfless, and Bengalis say they’ve caught the moon in their hand when they receive something rare).

Google Translate provides free translation in 90 languages, but for those that don’t have much presence on the Web - like Myanmar, Bengali, Vietnamese and Thai - it could use a little help.

This is where the Translate Community tool and passionate language speakers can make a difference. By letting people validate, match, rate and supply translations, it can boost the translation of these languages online for millions of people.

Try it out yourself at translate.google.com/community
Since kicking off on International Mother Tongue Day (21 Feb), more than 50,000 people have come together, online and off, to use this tool to improve translations for Bengali, Myanmar, Vietnamese and Thai. They gathered at startup hubs in Yangon and university campuses in Vietnam, Bangladesh and Thailand.
This gentleman showed up at Phandeeyar Innovation Hub in Yangon with a handwritten list of phrases he wanted Google to get right.

So far, more than 100 translate-a-thons have been held and more than 10 million words have been added. That's 17 times more words than Tolstoy used for War and Peace, 12 times the number of words in the English version of the Bible.

It's made a huge difference. The quality of Bengali translations are now twice as good as they were before human review. While in Thailand, Google Translate learned more Thai in seven days with the help of volunteers than in all of 2014.

The following graph show the spike in Translate Community inputs over the last month, March 26 saw a major spike for Bangladesh Independence day, setting a new record for the largest volume of translations contributed in 24 hours.
Google Translate Community surfaces a random selection of popular words and phrases that users are asking Google Translate to explain in their language — from music lyrics, to local recipes, to human rights.
Teaching Google Vietnamese at the University of Technology in Ho Chi Minh City
Teaching Google Vietnamese at the University of Technology in Ho Chi Minh City We sometimes think the offline world and online world are separate. They're not. A huge thank you to all the people that joined us for the Love your Language series of events. Your efforts have made it easier for people from downtown Dhaka to upcountry Thailand to access the web in a language they understand.
Teaching Thai at Siam University International College
And the improvements don’t need to stop. By joining the Translate Community you can join us in making the web work better for everyone — no matter what language you speak.

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February 21 marks the 15th anniversary of the UNESCO declaration of International Mother Language Day. Since then each Mother Language Day has promoted the preservation and protection of the approximately 7,000 languages that are spoken throughout the world, half of which are estimated to become extinct in a few generations.

In honor of Mother Language Day 2015, we've decorated the Google Translate homepage with an illustration that celebrates this year's theme of "inclusive education through and with language." Language education helps people connect with others both within and outside their local community.


Click on our illustration on the homepage to visit the Google Translate Community where you can help add new languages to Google Translate and improve those that are currently supported. We've already seen Cantonese, Kyrgyz and Pashto speakers contribute a lot, and we hope to continue our collaboration with these communities so we can eventually add these languages.


We hope you join us for Mother Language Day to improve translation for everyone and show pride for your language. We'll be highlighting the top languages with the most contributions to Translate Community over the next 48 hours on our Google+ page. Show some love for your language and help it get to the top of the list by contributing today!

Posted by Aaron Babst, Community/Program Manager, Google Translate

(Cross-posted on the Inside Search Blog)

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Often the hardest part of traveling is navigating the local language. If you've ever asked for "pain" in Paris and gotten funny looks, confused "embarazada" with "embarrassed" in Mexico, or stumbled over pronunciation pretty much anywhere, you know the feeling. Now Google Translate can be your guide in new ways. We’ve updated the Translate app on Android and iOS to transform your mobile device into an even more powerful translation tool.

Instant translation with Word Lens
The Translate app already lets you use camera mode to snap a photo of text and get a translation for it in 36 languages. Now, we’re taking it to the next level and letting you instantly translate text using your camera—so it’s way easier to navigate street signs in the Italian countryside or decide what to order off a Barcelona menu. While using the Translate app, just point your camera at a sign or text and you’ll see the translated text overlaid on your screen—even if you don't have an Internet or data connection.

This instant translation currently works for translation from English to and from French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish, and we’re working to expand to more languages. 


Have an easier conversation using the Translate app
When talking with someone in an unfamiliar language, conversations can... get... realllllllly... sloowwww. While we’ve had real-time conversation mode on Android since 2013, our new update makes the conversation flow faster and more naturally.

Starting today, simply tap the mic to start speaking in a selected language, then tap the mic again, and the Google Translate app will automatically recognize which of the two languages are being spoken, letting you have a more fluid conversation. For the rest of the conversation, you won’t need to tap the mic again—it'll be ready as you need it. Asking for directions to the Rive Gauche, ordering bacalhau in Lisbon, or chatting with your grandmother in her native Spanish just got a lot faster.


These updates will be coming to both Android and iOS, rolling out over the next few days. This is the first time some of these advanced features, like camera translations and conversation mode, will be available for iOS users.

More than 500 million people use Google Translate every month, making more than 1 billion translations a day to more easily communicate and access information across languages. Today’s updates take us one step closer to turning your phone into a universal translator and to a world where language is no longer a barrier to discovering information or connecting with each other.

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Cross-posted on the Inside Search Blog

Whether you're teaching yourself a new language or trying to make a new friend, Google Translate can be a powerful tool for crossing language barriers. Today, we're adding 10 languages to Translate, bringing our total number of supported languages to 90. These 10 new languages will allow more than 200 million additional people to translate text to and from their native languages. These languages are available now on translate.google.com and will roll out soon to our mobile apps and to the built-in translation functionality in Chrome.  

If it weren't for the active Translate Community participation, we wouldn't be able to launch some of these languages today. While our translation system learns from translated data found on the web, sometimes we need support from humans to improve our algorithms. We're very grateful for all the support we're getting today and we hope that together with our community, we can continue improving translation quality for the languages we support today and add even more languages in the future.

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Spotlight on our new languages

Africa gets more language coverage with Chichewa, Malagasy, and Sesotho:

  • Chichewa (Chinyanja) is spoken by 12 million people in Malawi and surrounding countries. It is one of 55 languages used in the greetings that now travel the galaxy on the Voyager interstellar probes.
  • Malagasy is spoken by 18 million people in Madagascar, where it is the national language. It is one of only a few languages which puts the verb first in sentences, followed by the object and then the subject.
  • Sesotho has 6 million native speakers. It is the national language of Lesotho and one of 11 official languages in South Africa.

In India and Southeast Asia, we are adding Malayalam, Myanmar, Sinhala, and Sundanese:

  • Malayalam (മലയാളം), with 38 million native speakers, is a major language in India and one of that country’s 6 classical languages. It’s been one of the most-requested languages, so we are especially excited to add Malayalam support!
  • Myanmar (Burmese, မြန်မာစာ) is the official language of Myanmar with 33 million native speakers. Myanmar language has been in the works for a long time as it's a challenging language for automatic translation, both from language structure and font encoding perspectives. While our system understands different Myanmar inputs, we encourage the use of open standards and therefore only output Myanmar translations in Unicode.
  • Sinhala (සිංහල) is one of the official languages of Sri Lanka and natively spoken by 16 million people. In September the local community in Sri Lanka organized Sinhala Translate Week, and since then, participants have contributed tens of thousands of translations to our system. We're happy to be able to release Sinhala as one of the new languages today!
  • Sundanese (Basa Sunda) is spoken on the island of Java in Indonesia by 39 million people. While Sundanese does have its own script, it is today commonly written using the Latin alphabet, which is what our system uses.

In Central Asia, we are adding Kazakh, Tajik, and Uzbek:

  • Kazakh (Қазақ тілі) with 11 million native speakers in Kazakhstan. We've received strong support from Kazakh language enthusiasts, and we hope to continue collaborating with the local communities in the region to add even more languages in the future, including Kyrgyz.
  • Tajik (Тоҷикӣ), a close relative to modern Persian, is spoken by more than 4 million people in Tajikistan and beyond.
  • Uzbek (Oʻzbek tili) is spoken by 25 million people in Uzbekistan. In addition to receiving Uzbek community support, we've incorporated the Uzbek dictionary by Shavkat Butaev into our system.

We’re just getting started with these new languages and have a long way to go. You can help us by suggesting your corrections using "Improve this translation" functionality on Translate and contributing to Translate Community.

Posted by the Google Translate engineering team

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When you're browsing the web, you might come across a page where some of the text is in a different language. With the new update to the Google Translate Chrome extension, you can translate just that piece of text, without worrying about the rest of the page.

Simply highlight the text that you want to translate, and then click the Translate icon that appears. You can also right click and choose "Google Translate". If you click the Translate icon in the upper right of your browser window, with no text highlighted, you can translate the entire web page.




You can download and try the Translate extension from the Chrome Web Store; if you already have the extension installed, it will be updated automatically.

The Translate team is working hard to connect people by breaking language barriers across computers, mobile devices and Internet browsers. Our users make more than 1 billion translations a day, and we hope that our recent update will make their translation tasks a little easier!


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Google Translate helps billions of people communicate and learn new languages, but it could always use a little help. Luckily, there are a lot of multi-lingual people around the world who have offered to pitch in.  We’ve just launched a new Translate Community where language enthusiasts can help us improve translation quality for the 80 languages we support, as well as help us in launching new languages.


In the new community, you'll find options to help with a variety of things, including generating new translations and rating existing ones. Over time, you’ll find more ways to contribute, as well as get more visibility into the impact of your contributions and the activity across the community. We will also localize Community pages to support your preferred display language. If you have feedback and ideas about improving and growing our community, we'd love to hear it so please don't hesitate to submit it via "Send feedback" link on the bottom of the page.

Screen Shot 2014-05-07 at 5.37.55 PM.png

Even if you don’t have time to dedicate towards Translate Community, we want to make it easier for you to make translation corrections when you find a problem. We’ve recently made it possible for you to suggest an entirely new translation directly in Google Translate.

When you spot a translation that you’d like to edit, click the "Improve this translation" pencil icon and click "Contribute" to submit your suggestion to us. We plan to incorporate your corrections and over time learn your language a little better.  

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So help us fine-tune and launch languages you care about: join our community efforts and make translations more accurate when you use Google Translate!

Posted by Sveta Kelman, Program Manager, Google Translate

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Whether you’re trekking to a new place or simply trying to communicate with someone who doesn’t share a language with you, Google Translate can help you connect to new information and people. Today, we’re launching 9 new languages that span Africa, Asia, and Oceania and have over 200 million native speakers, collectively.

Spotlight on our new languages

In Africa, we’re adding Somali, Zulu, and the 3 major languages of Nigeria.

  • Hausa (Harshen Hausa), spoken in Nigeria and neighboring countries with 35 million native speakers
  • Igbo (Asụsụ Igbo) spoken in Nigeria with 25 million native speakers
  • Yoruba (èdè Yorùbá) spoken in Nigeria and neighboring countries with 28 million native speakers
  • Somali (Af-Soomaali) spoken in Somalia and other countries around the Horn of Africa with 17 million native speakers
  • Zulu (isiZulu) spoken in South Africa and other south-western African countries with 10 million native speakers

Throughout Asia, we’re launching languages spoken in Mongolia and South Asia.

  • Mongolian (Монгол хэл), official language in Mongolia and also spoken in parts of China with 6 million native speakers
  • Nepali (नेपाली), spoken in Nepal and India with 17 million native speakers
  • Punjabi language (ਪੰਜਾਬੀ) (Gurmukhi script), spoken in India and Pakistan with 100 million native speakers


Thanks to the volunteer effort of passionate native speakers in New Zealand, we’re adding the language of the Maori people.
  • Maori (Te Reo Māori), spoken in New Zealand with 160 thousand speakers

Punjabi on the Google Translate desktop web app
Mongolian on the Google Translate Android app

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You can help to add your language to Google Translate
Although Google Translate is an automatic tool, a new language sometimes needs a little love from native speakers to get off the ground. You can help launch your language by volunteering to help us gather and translate texts in your language. Sign up with this form. We’re also constantly fine-tuning our translations. You can help with these efforts by clicking the translated text and editing it to be correct.

As always, we realize that we’re just getting started and have a long way to go. But hopefully these new languages in Translate help you to connect with new friends and new cultures.

Posted by Arne Mauser, Software Engineer