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Google adds 110 new languages to Google Translate

Google is using artificial intelligence (AI) to add 110 new languages to Google Translate, including some local or regional spoken dialects.

According to Google, it’s the largest expansion ever. And it’s all possible thanks to PaLM 2, Google’s next generation large language model (LLM) which is capable of translating.

PaLM is an acronym that stands for ‘Pathways Language Model’. The most recent iteration, which was announced in May 2023 at Google’s annual Google I/O keynote, uses over 340 billion parameters and is trained on 3.6 billion tokens. It used nearly five times as much data compared to its predecessor.

Afar, Cantonese, Manx, NKo, Punjabi, Seychellois Creole, Tamazight, Tok Pisin and Q’eqchi are some of the new languages Google has added to its translation service Google Translate.

According to the Mountain View-based tech company, the new languages represent over 614 million speakers, or roughly 8 percent of the world’s population. Some of these are only spoken by small communities or indigenous people. A few new languages have almost no native speakers. Google added these dialects anyway in an effort to revitalize these languages.

One of them is Limburgish, a language only spoken in the province of Limburg, the Netherlands. Jasper Kuntzelaers, Deputy for Culture and Heritage, is thrilled that Google added the language to Google Translate. “If we want to protect and promote the use of Limburgish, it is essential to take the developments of digital applications into account,” he says.

Google states that adding a new language to Google Translate it has to take numerous factors into account, like regional varieties, dialects and different spelling standards.

The company tried to prioritize commonly used varieties of each language. PaLM 2 played a key factor in combining all these factors and learning new languages.

“As technology advances, and as we continue to partner with expert linguists and native speakers, we’ll support even more language varieties and spelling conventions over time,” Issac Caswell, software engineer at Google, said in a statement.

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