Google Translate, which helps people communicate with others using non-native languages, has just added nine more languages—including five in Africa–to its offerings, which now provides translations for 80 languages.
The milestone was announced by Arne Mauser, a Translate software engineer, in a Dec. 10 post on the Google Translate Blog.
“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,” wrote Mauser, who said Google is launching new languages that “span Africa, Asia, and Oceania and have over 200 million native speakers, collectively.”
The additional African languages are Hausa (Harshen Hausa), which is spoken in Nigeria and neighboring countries with 35 million native speakers; Igbo (Asụsụ Igbo), which spoken in Nigeria with 25 million native speakers; Yoruba (èdè Yorùbá), which is spoken in Nigeria and neighboring countries with 28 million native speakers; Somali (Af-Soomaali), which is spoken in Somalia and other countries around the Horn of Africa with 17 million native speakers; and Zulu (isiZulu), which is spoken in South Africa and other southwestern African countries with 10 million native speakers, according to Mauser.
“There are lots of languages in Africa, and this is the largest expansion into African languages to date (Google Translate supports Swahili and Afrikaans already),” wrote Mauser. “The more language is used on the web, the higher chances for us to launch it one day.”
Users can access the new languages through Google Translate on the desktop or through mobile apps for Android and iOS.
In addition, Translate is also launching language support for Mongolian (Монгол хэл), which is the official language in Mongolia and is also spoken in parts of China by 6 million native speakers; Nepali (नेपाली), which is spoken in Nepal and India by 17 million native speakers; and Punjabi (ਪੰਜਾਬੀ) (Gurmukhi script), which is spoken in India and Pakistan by 100 million native speakers.
Also being added, wrote Mauser, is Maori (Te Reo Māori), which is spoken in New Zealand by 160,000 native speakers. The Translate effort for Maori was made possible due to the “volunteer effort of passionate native speakers in New Zealand,” he wrote.
Users who want Google Translate to add other languages to the service can participate by “volunteering to help us gather and translate texts in your language,” he wrote. “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.”
Google regularly updates its Translate services.
In November, Google made its Google Translate language translation app for Android faster and expanded its coverage to several additional foreign languages, including Malay and Ukranian.
Google Translate Adds Support for More World Languages
The Translate app, which was introduced in 2010, allows users to speak into an Android device to get a translation into another language, or to use a built-in handwriting feature to get translations. Those capabilities are useful for travelers when they are in places where non-native languages are spoken.
The latest version of Google Translate includes more language support for the built-in handwriting feature, which now gives users the ability to directly write words in Hebrew, Javanese, and Esperanto on their devices so they can be translated on the fly. Users can also use the camera translation feature to take a photo of written text with an Android device and then highlight the words they’d like to be translated.
So far, Translate supports translations for more than 80 languages, including Afrikaans, Albanian, Arabic, Armenian, Azerbaijani, Basque, Belarusian, Bengali, Bosnian, Bulgarian, Catalan, Cebuano, Chinese (Simplified), Chinese (Traditional), Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Esperanto, Estonian, Filipino, Finnish, French, Galician, Georgian, German, Greek, Gujarati, Haitian Creole, Hebrew, Hindi, Hmong, Hungarian, Icelandic, Indonesian, Irish, Italian, Japanese, Javanese, Kannada, Khmer, Korean, Lao, Latin, Latvian, Lithuanian, Macedonian, Malay, Maltese, Marathi, Norwegian, Persian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish, Swahili, Swedish, Tamil, Telugu, Thai, Turkish, Ukrainian, Urdu, Vietnamese, Welsh and Yiddish, according to Google.
Earlier in November, Google launched inexpensive language translation services for Android app developers to help them get their apps translated so they can sell them in other countries. The new service is expected to cost about $75 for a small app to about $150 for a large app for each language translation.
In August, Google added a Google+ translation feature to help users quickly get basic translations when other users make posts in languages other than their own on Google+.
In July 2013, Google integrated language translation services into its Chrome for Android Version 28 Web browser. The integration provided automatic detection of foreign languages when users browse Web pages, as well as a follow-up offer to translate those pages into the user’s native language.
In May 2013, Google Translate on Android added 16 more languages for its camera input feature, while Google’s Web-based Translate service added five more languages. The camera-input feature allows users to take a photo of a sign in a foreign language so it can be translated. The performance of the camera-input feature was also improved at that time. The updates also now let users save their favorite translated phrases to a phrasebook in their Android devices so they can easily call them up again when needed. In the past, users could not easily access those saved translations on the go from their smartphones or tablets. The 16 added languages were Bulgarian, Catalan, Danish, Estonian, Finnish, Croatian, Hungarian, Indonesian, Icelandic, Lithuanian, Latvian, Norwegian, Romanian, Slovak, Slovenian and Swedish.
In March 2013, Google Translate for Android got a big upgrade when Google unveiled a feature that lets traveling users access language-translation services on their mobile devices, even when they don’t have access to an Internet connection. Instead of relying on a connection, users can now download individual offline language apps for devices running Android 2.3 or higher. Users can install the free app to their Android device and gain the capabilities to translate text and speech, as well as listen to the translations being spoken aloud. Users can input the text they want to translate using their voice, handwriting or the device’s camera.
Users can also save their favorite translations for easy offline access later. Plus, they can view dictionary results for single words or phrases as needed. The offline apps are less comprehensive than their online equivalents, but they are perfect for translating in a pinch when users are traveling abroad with poor reception or without mobile data access.