Google’s neural translation technology

‘300 mn. Indian language users may come online in 4 years’

Google said it had unveiled a new set of products and features for Indian languages to better serve the needs of Indians who were coming online rapidly.

It said Google Translate will use a new ‘neural machine translation technology’ to translate between English and nine widely-used Indian languages. These include Tamil, Kannada, Malayalam and Telugu. Other languages are Hindi, Punjabi, Bengali, Marathi and Gujarati.

“We’re taking a huge step forward to bring down the barriers that stop Indian language users from getting more out of the Internet and also helping the industry to solve the needs of billion Indians,” said Rajan Anandan, vice president, India and South East Asia, Google, in a statement.

The firm said neural translation offered a huge improvement over the old phrase-based system, translating full sentences at a time instead of pieces of a sentence. This change improves the quality of translation in a single jump than seen in the last ten years combined.

Sharing insights from the joint report “Indian Languages — Defining India’s Internet”— by Google and consulting firm KPMG India, Mr.Anandan said the country had 234 million Indian language users who were online compared with 175 million English web users. “We expect another 300 million Indian language users to come online in the next four years,” he said.

Google also announced the extension of neural machine translation to Chrome browser’s built-in auto-translate functionality to web content. This would make full-page translations more accurate and easier to read. The content ranges from song lyrics to cricket discussions. The new translation capability will also be available to users on Google search and Maps to aid discovery of new places such as cafes and hotels with translations of local reviews on Google Maps, both on mobile and desktop.

Extending support to cover all 22 scheduled Indian languages, Google also rolled out new Gboard, a keyboard for Android unveiled in launched in December 2016. It has transliteration support for languages.such as Urdu, Tamil, Hindi and Bengali. With Google Search built right into the keyboard, Gboard will allow users to ‘search’ and use Google Translate right on their keyboard. For users who often switch back and forth between Hindi and English, they will also be able to use ‘Hinglish’ language option with new text editing tool.


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