Africa: Google Translate Learns 10 New African Languages

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Ten of the new language additions on Google translate are African languages including Lingala, Twi, and Tigrinya. There are now 133 languages supported by a technology that is breaking language barriers and connecting communities around the world.

Google has added 24 languages to its Google translate platform reaching a further 300 million people. The addition is a social one catering to speakers whose languages “aren’t represented in most technology” and a technical milestone in a machine learning model that learns to “translate into another language without ever seeing an example.”

The machine learning model although still developing is useful for languages where large datasets of human translations used to train a computer are not available.

“For many supported languages, even the largest languages in Africa that we have supported – say like Yoruba, Igbo, the translation is not great. It will definitely get the idea across but often it will lose much of the subtlety of the language,” Google Translate research scientist Isaac Caswell told the BBC.

Some notable additions are Mizo, used by around 800,000 people in the far northeast of India, Lingala, used by over 45 million people across Central Africa, Indigenous languages of the Americas (Quechua, Guarani, and Aymara), and an English dialect (Sierra Leonean Krio).

A complete list of the new languages now available are:

Assamese, used by about 25 million people in Northeast India

Aymara, used by about two million people in Bolivia, Chile, and Peru

Bambara, used by about 14 million people in Mali

Bhojpuri, used by about 50 million people in northern India, Nepal, and Fiji

Dhivehi, used by about 300,000 people in the Maldives

Dogri, used by about three million people in northern India

Ewe, used by about seven million people in Ghana and Togo

Guarani, used by about seven million people in Paraguay and Bolivia, Argentina, and Brazil

Ilocano, used by about 10 million people in the northern Philippines

Konkani, used by about two million people in Central India

Krio, used by about four million people in Sierra Leone

Kurdish (Sorani), used by about 15 million people in Iraq and Iran

Lingala, used by about 45 million people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Republic of the Congo, Central African Republic, Angola, and the Republic of South Sudan

Luganda, used by about 20 million people in Uganda and Rwanda