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Chat Translation: A Joycean Thing?

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July 07, 2011

Chat Translation: A Joycean Thing?

By David Sims, TMCnet Contributing Editor

Well, this is a bit like being back in college lit classes we thought would lead to a lucrative, rewarding career as an idiosyncratic novelist living in a London garret. Fast Company has an article about chat translation featuring James Joyce’s modern classic novel, Ulysses.

 “James Joyce would have adored Google (News - Alert) Translate,” FC says, pointing as evidence to the semi-incoherent Ulysses and the not- even- pretending- to- make- sense- Finnegan’s Wake, and saying Joyce was “first a translator, a student, and teacher of modern languages.”

But last month, FC said, Google started killing off its Translate API, a move which “shocked a lot of people, especially developers who'd baked Google Translate into their products.”

Then Google thought hey, let’s just charge for it, instead of giving it away for free. FC says this completely eliminates “the spammiest, skeeziest, and too-flat-broke-to-hand-check-the-text users,” and keeps those with “a stake in ensuring that translation is done well and remains high-value.”

A couple weeks ago industry journal GMA News wrote that at least five new languages from the Indian subcontinent have been added to Google’s language translation service, although on an “experimental" basis for now: “Google research scientist Ashish Venugopal said Google Translate now supports the Bengali, Gujarati, Kannada, Tamil and Telugu languages.”

They’re certainly casting a wide net. In India and Bangladesh alone, the journal noted, “more than 500 million people speak these five languages. Since 2009, we’ve launched a total of 11 alpha languages, bringing the current number of languages supported by Google Translate to 63.”

David Sims is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of David’s articles, please visit his columnist page. He also blogs for TMCnet here.

Edited by Jamie Epstein

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