Alphabet Inc’s Google has announced the addition of 24 new languages to Google Translate. Two of these are spoken widely in South Africa, namely; Sepedi and Tsonga. Google has added the languages because, according to Google, Sepedi is spoken by 14 million people around South Africa. Tsonga is not as common, but still has a whopping 7 million speakers scattered through Zimbabwe, Eswatini, Mozambique, and South Africa.
The addition of these 24 languages brings Google Translate’s total up to 133.
Google Translate now has seven of South Africa’s official languages on offer, with Sepedi and Tsonga joining English, Afrikaans, Sesotho, Xhosa, and Zulu. Hopefully, Google will eventually support all of South Africa’s official languages. Well, we can hope.
Google said that the 24 new languages they added were the first to use Zero-Shot Machine translation. What this means is that the machine model that Google uses is able to translate these languages without needing to use an example as a reference.
Google explains that the new technology isn’t perfect. The AI system spends a fair amount of time improving itself. Over time, this model will start being used for bigger and more common languages such as Spanish and French, thus improving the quality of translation.
Here’s a full list of the languages Google has just added;
If you try looking for any of these languages today, you will probably be out of luck. It seems Google will be rolling these languages out in waves – with South Africa not being on the early list. If we wait patiently, we’ll get access to them in just a few days. Probably.