Google Translate has reached an incredible 200 million active users. That’s enough translated text to fill 1 million books, every day.
Introduced in 2001, Google Translate began with just 8 language options, to and from English. Franz Och, Distinguished Research Scientist for Google Translate, wrote in the Google blog just how far the useful service has come:
“In 2001, Google started providing a service that could translate eight languages to and from English. It used what was the state-of-the-art commercial machine translation (MT), but the translation quality wasn’t very good, and it didn’t improve much in those first few years. In 2003, a few Google engineers decided to ramp up the translation quality and tackle more languages.”
“We announced our statistical MT approach on April 28, 2006, and in the six years since then we’ve focused primarily on core translation quality and language coverage. We can now translate among any of 64 different languages, including many with a small web presence, such as Bengali, Basque, Swahili, Yiddish, even Esperanto.”
Google is continuing to dream of a society where it doesn’t matter what languages a group of people speak, they will all be able to understand and contribute to a conversation, using a form of a translation program. Preferably Google Translate, of course.