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May 8, 2008

Google Translate Becomes the Best Free Online Translator

Google Translate's coverage has been expanded dramatically. It now supports the translation between any of the following languages: English, Arabic, Bulgarian, Chinese, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, Swedish (the new languages are shown in bold). From 26 language pairs, Google Translate now supports 506 language pairs and becomes the most comprehensive online translation tool available for free.

Obviously, the translation is far from being perfect or even coherent, but it's a great way to understand the central ideas from a text. Now that Google Translate supports so many languages, it's not hard to imagine that you'll be able to read almost any web page in your language and maybe any application will be able to use Google Translate's APIs to speak your language.

"Most state-of-the-art, commercial machine-translation systems in use today have been developed using a rule-based approach, and require a lot of work to define vocabularies and grammars. Our system takes a different approach: we feed the computer billions of words of text, both monolingual text in the target language, and aligned text consisting of examples of human translations between the languages. We then apply statistical learning techniques to build a translation model. (...) 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 a quick and seamless translation experience," explains Google Translate's FAQ.


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