Microsoft Leverages Tech to Preserve Languages at Risk of Disappearing
The software giant hopes to make lost languages a thing of the past with software that helps them maintain their relevancy in the modern age.Language, culture and heritage are often inextricably linked. Microsoft is working to ensure that cultural fabric of some populations aren't pulled apart because today's software solutions don't speak their language. Celebrating UNESCO's International Mother Language Day, which took place on Feb. 21, the Redmond, Wash.-based company is showing off its progress in making technology more accessible to users who may not speak a major language or have a way in which to keep their language alive. "Microsoft Translator is releasing Yucatec Maya and Querétaro Otomi in an ongoing effort to further language preservation," said Scott Charney, corporate vice president of Microsoft Trustworthy Computing, in a Feb. 23 announcement. "The automatic translation systems for Mayan and Otomi were built using the Microsoft Translator Hub, a Translator product available free of cost to allow organizations to create their own unique translation systems." Microsoft has been working to expand its translation services to help both businesses and consumers break down the barriers of communication. In December, the company released a preview of Skype Translator (English and Spanish), months after first wowing the industry with an early demonstration of the real-time text and spoken translation service.
In today's connected world, "being multilingual, or knowing more than one language, increases our overall readiness to relate and to communicate cross-culturally," said Charney. "Since the ability to speak a language also gives us insight into a culture and a broader world view, language learning gives us more understanding than we get from simply having a translator present or learning a common diplomatic language."