Google launches Latin translation tool
Google Translate, a service that can instantly translate entire web pages or chunks of text in to another language, has added Latin to its list.
Google Translate supports more than 50 languages, including minority languages such as Welsh and Haitian Creole, and the addition of Latin is sure to please scholars and traditionalists.
In a blog post, written entirely in Latin, Jakob Uszkoreit, a senior engineer at Google, said that Latin was far from a “dead language”.
“There are many Latin language learners,” he wrote. “Over 100,000 American students take the National Latin Exam every year and many more learn Latin all of the world. And there is a wealth of information originally written in it.”
He said that while Google recognised that the Latin translation tool would rarely be used to decipher emails or captions on YouTube videos, it would enable web users to read many of the crucially important philosophical and scientific texts originally written in this language.
“There are tens of thousands of scanned books written in Latin on Google Books, and many more contain Latin quotes and proverbs,” he wrote.
Google expects translations to and from Latin to be among the most accurate offered by its Google Translate tool.
“Unlike any of the other languages Google Translate supports, Latin offers a unique advantage: most of the text that will ever be written in Latin has already been written, and a comparatively large part of it has been translated in to other languages.
“We use these translations, found in books and on the web, to train our system.”
Google has also added a Latin text-to-speech function, too, to help people with their pronunciation.