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Happy màthair cànan latha (Mother Language Day) February 21, 2016

Posted by P, J, or J in Uncategorized.
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Ann an 2006, Google thoirt a-steach inneal ionnsachaidh stèidhichte air eadar-theangachadh eadar Beurla agus Arabais, Sìonach is Ruiseanach. Deich bliadhna an dèidh sin, tha iad a ‘tabhann 103 cànanan a tha iad a’ cumail a-mach a ‘còmhdach 99% den àireamh-sluaigh air-loidhne. agus a-nis airson an fheadhainn aig nach eil a ‘bruidhinn Gàidhlig seo a’ Bheurla. In 2006, Google introduced machine learning-based translations between English and Arabic, Chinese and Russian. Ten years later, they offer 103 languages that they claim cover 99% of the online population. and now for those who don’t speak Scots Gaelic here’s the English.

 Just in time for International Mother Language day 2016 Google added 13 more languagesnew-languages-animation to Google translate. These are Amharic, Corsican, Frisian, Kyrgyz, Hawaiian, Kurdish (Kurmanji), Luxembourgish, Samoan, Scots Gaelic, Shona, Sindhi, Pashto and Xhosa. As with previous translation results are likely to vary considerably between language pairs.

Find out more at the Google Translate Blog which gives a few insights into how machine translation is possible. This includes “the basic criteria that it must be a written language, we also need a significant amount of translations in the new language to be available on the web”.

Of course, as regular readers of this blog may already know, as many as half the world’s 7000 languages are not yet in any kind of standard written form, and many others that have been written down aren’t used widely on the web. Over 900 languages now have at least some part of the Bible online via YouVersion.com and other partners in the Digital Bible Library. Some have there own growing wikipedias. Some have virtually nothing.

That can change. Technology is sometimes part of the barrier and can be part of the solution but a greater barrier is often one of attitude. So often people have been told that there traditional language has no place in the modern world, but attitudes are shifting. The UN and UNESCO have been promoting International Mother Language day since 2000. Depending where in the world you are you may (or may not) have spotted references in national media as well as responses from major corporations such as Google. So in another 10 years will Google be offering some degree of translation between a 1000+ commonly used languages on the web? Will YouVersion be able to offer scripture in 3-5000 languages?

Will I still be tracking data on such things? Stay tuned. Read a few more things on this blog about our part in the world of languages and Bible translation. Thanks for reading.

…or as they say in Scot’s Gaelic (if Google translate has got it right):

“Taing airson leughadh!”

mld2016 infographic header

Part of Unesco’s Mother Language Day infographic click here for the full graphic and lots more

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