Travelers, rejoice: Google Translate adds 110 new languages ​​thanks to AI

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Google Translate is adding 110 new languages, the biggest expansion ever, the company said Thursday, covering nearly a tenth of the world’s population. And it’s all thanks to AI advancements.

Google software engineer Isaac Caswell said in a release that the search giant’s PaLM 2 language model is “helping translation more efficiently learn languages ​​that are very closely related to one another.” This includes “languages ​​close to Hindi, such as Awadhi and Marwari, and French creoles such as Seychellois Creole and Mauritian Creole.”

Other new languages ​​include Afar, Cantonese and Tamazight (Amazigh). Google says the new languages ​​represent more than 614 million people, or about 8% of the world’s population. About a quarter of them are from Africa, making this the largest expansion of African languages ​​on Google Translate to date.

If a language has regional variations and dialects, Google’s language models combine the different elements to create a hybrid version. The company says it “prioritizes the most commonly used variations of each language.”

“For example, Romani is a language that has many dialects across Europe. Our models produce text that is closest to Southern Vlax Romani, the most commonly used variety online. But it also mixes with other elements, such as Northern Vlax and Balkan Romani,” the company said.

In 2022, Google added 24 new languages ​​to Translate using a technique called zero-shot machine translation, in which a machine learning model can translate a language into another without seeing any examples. It also launched the 1,000 Languages ​​initiative, which aims to build AI models to support the 1,000 most spoken languages.

“As the technology advances, and we continue to partner with expert linguists and native speakers, we’ll support even more language variations and spelling conventions over time,” Caswell said in the release.

You can use Google Translate at translate.google.com or through the Android and iOS mobile apps.

Google is one of many tech companies leveraging AI to boost its offerings. It has incorporated the technology into platforms like Gmail, Search and Messages, and made AI the primary focus of its I/IO event in May. Competitors like Apple and Microsoft have similarly incorporated AI into their products and services, with Apple earlier this month introducing a set of “Apple Intelligence” updates coming to the iPhone.

Read more: AI was Google’s biggest ‘product’ at I/O. Tech keynotes will never be the same

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