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Google Will Translate from Kazakh Language

Friday 31 August 2012

ALMATY (BNews.kz) – At the International Conference of Turkic-lingual Wikipedias in Almaty, Google announced it will add the Kazakh language into its Google Translate service.

Google Translate is a free statistical machine translation service provided by Google Inc. to translate a section of text, document, or webpage into another language. It does not apply grammatical rules, since its algorithms are based on statistical analysis rather than traditional rule-based analysis. Indeed, the system’s original creator, Franz Josef Och, has criticized the effectiveness of rule-based algorithms in favour of statistical approaches. It is based on a method called statistical machine translation, and more specifically, on research by Och who won the DARPA contest for speed machine translation in 2003. He is now the head of Google’s machine translation group.

Google does not translate from one language to another (L1 → L2), but often translates first to English and then to the target language (L1 → EN → L2). However, because English, like all human languages, is ambiguous and depends on context, this can cause translation errors. For example, translating vous from French to Russian gives vous → you → ты OR Bы/вы. If Google were using an unambiguous, artificial language as the intermediary, it would be vous → you → Bы/вы OR tu → thou → ты. Such a suffixing of words disambiguates their different meanings. Hence, publishing in English, using non ambiguous words, providing context, using expressions such as “you all” often make a better one-step translation.

Google Translate, like other automatic translation tools, has its limitations. While it can help the reader to understand the general content of a foreign language text, it does not always deliver accurate translations. Some languages produce better results than others. Google Translate performs well especially when English is the target language and the source language is one of the languages of the European Union. Results of analyses were reported in 2010, showing that French to English translation is very accurate, and 2011 and 2012 showing that Italian to English translation is very accurate as well. However, rule-based machine translations perform better if the text to be translated is shorter; this effect is particularly evident in Chinese to English translations.

Other Kazakh projects

Other projects intended to boost development of Kazakh content in the web were also discussed at the Turkic-lingual Wikipedias conference. The Open Library of Kazakhstan is one of these projects: it is going to include everything that has been published as part of the program called Cultural Heritage. It will also contain a wide range of audio podcasts and a complete set of audiobooks of Kazakh literature. The library also will have multifunctional dictionary and glossary of Kazakh language.

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