Google Translate is rolling out a major upgrade for several languages over the next few weeks starting with Russian, Vietnamese, and Hindi, the product lead announced on Google’s company blog late Monday.
“Neural translation is a lot better than our previous technology, because we translate whole sentences at a time, instead of pieces of a sentence,” Product Lead Barak Turovsky said. “This makes for translations that are usually more accurate and sound closer to the way people speak the language.”
There’s no need to manually update your Translate app as the data will be included in Google’s translation memory bank.
Google announced the switch to neural networks-powered interpretation last fall and has initially rolled out changes to eight major languages. This deep learning approach to translation is more versatile than the previous phrase-based method the open translator had been using.
Last November, Google revealed their technology worked better than expected as it was able to infer translations in a third language based on translation data between two other languages, something Google calls “zero-shot translation.” Extremely simplified: imagine being able to use your knowledge of English and Spanish to be able to guess French. Some readers mistakenly understood Translate was creating its own language, when in fact it was doing something akin to neural mapping that matched linguistic paradigms of vocabulary and phrases across different languages (something Google dubbed an ‘interlingua’).
Google Translate operates in 103 languages, while some services like Microsoft Translator and Yandex.Translate cover fewer but include things like low-volume Russian languages, South American dialects, and even Elvish.