Google this week rolled out a Website translator gadget, an in-page translation capability for the new version of Google Toolbar for Firefox and new translation tools for Google Docs' spreadsheets. These new translation features underscore how Google is really putting Google Translate to the test, but this will be a long, long process. There are thousands of languages around the world and every language has its own quirks and nuances that distinguish it from the others.
Google announced three pieces of translation-related news
this week to make its Web services available in multiple languages and
celebrate International Translation Day Sept. 30.
a Website translator gadget
to help developers render their site content in 51
The idea is that when users visit a Website, if their
language is different than that of the content on the Web page, they may click
a button to translate the content into their language of choice on the fly.
Once a site owner installs the gadget, it will detect the language of a
visitor by checking their Web browser for language properties. If the visitor's
language is different than that of the site's language, a translation button
will appear. If both the Website and visitor's browser share the same language,
no translation button will appear.
Site owners need only cut and paste a code snippet into their
Web page to leverage this gadget, based on automatic translation technology
. Google's translator gadget
came just a few hours after Facebook released
its own Website translation tool for developers of its Facebook
Google Oct. 1 added an
in-page translation capability
for the new version of Google Toolbar for
Firefox, letting users to read a Webpage in another language by clicking a
The moves comes one week after Google launched an
upgraded Google Toolbar with Sidewiki
, an annotation service that caused a bit of a store among bloggers concerned
the service would hijack their comments, and ultimately, their
For the new version of the Toolbar, Google has also taken
a page out of its Web search playbook by displaying
Website suggestions and sponsored links when users type their
queries in the toolbar. Clicking on suggested queries will take users directly
to the Website.
For people who are using the new version of Firefox 3.5,
Google Toolbar in Firefox has adopted the browser's Private Browsing mode
feature. The toolbar will also now stop recording search box history while in
Private Browsing mode. It will also turn off PageRank, Web History and
Finally, Google added two new features to its Google
spreadsheets applications in Google Docs that add translation and language
detection capabilities to forms. Google explains how these work in a
blog post here
As a whole, these new translation features underscore how
Google is really putting Google Translate to the test, but this will be a long,
long process. There are thousands of languages around the world and every
language has its own quirks and nuances that distinguish it from the others. Just
look at Google position attaining human-quality machine translation:
"Even today's most sophisticated software... doesn't
approach the fluency of a native speaker or possess the skill of a professional
translator. Automatic translation is very difficult, as the meaning of words
depends on the context in which they're used. While we are working on the
problem, it may be some time before anyone can offer human quality
translations. In the interim, we hope you find the service we provide useful
for most purposes."
Machine translation is a global challenge, one that Web
service providers such as Google and Facebook must tackle if they want to reach
as broad a user base as possible.