Google Translate almost doubled its number of supported languages

Enlarge / The PaLM 2 logo, a large language model from Google.


Google today announced that it has added support for 110 new languages ​​to Google Translate, nearly doubling the number of languages ​​that can be translated.

The company used the PaLM 2 large language model to facilitate these additions.

In a blog post, Isaac Caswell, a senior software engineer at Google, said that more than 614 million people, or about 8 percent of the world’s population, speak the newly added languages.

He noted that about a quarter of the languages ​​originate in Africa, “representing our largest expansion of African languages ​​to date.”

The blog post also went into some detail about Google’s philosophy for choosing languages ​​and deciding which dialects to support:

Languages ​​have immense variation: regional varieties, dialects, different spelling standards. In fact, many languages ​​have no standard form, so it is impossible to choose one “correct” variety. Our approach has been to prioritize the most widely used varieties of each language. For example, Romani is a language that has many dialects across Europe. Our models produce text closest to Southern Vlax Romani, a variety commonly used online. But it also mixes elements of others, such as Northern Vlax and Balkan Romani.

This update brings the total number of languages ​​supported by Google Translate to 243, which is just the beginning of the company’s much-hyped initiative to support 1,000 languages ​​through the use of AI. You can see the full list of added languages ​​on a help page published by Google.

By contrast, Apple Translate supports 21 languages, although that number includes US English and UK English as separate options. Apple recently announced its plans to add Hindi to its Translate app. Of course, Apple and Google take very different approaches to these tools and have different levels of investment in them.

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