Category Archives: Google Translate Blog

The official source of information about our translation and language technologies

Reducing gender bias in Google Translate

Over the course of this year, there’s been an effort across Google to promote fairness and reduce bias in machine learning. Our latest development in this effort addresses gender bias by providing feminine and masculine translations for some gender-neutral words on the Google Translate website.


Google Translate learns from hundreds of millions of already-translated examples from the web. Historically, it has provided only one translation for a query, even if the translation could have either a feminine or masculine form. So when the model produced one translation, it inadvertently replicated gender biases that already existed. For example: it would skew masculine for words like “strong” or “doctor,” and feminine for other words, like “nurse” or “beautiful.”


Now you’ll get both a feminine and masculine translation for a single word—like “surgeon”—when translating from English into French, Italian, Portuguese or Spanish. You’ll also get both translations when translating phrases and sentences from Turkish to English. For example, if you type “o bir doktor” in Turkish, you’ll now get “she is a doctor” and “he is a doctor” as the gender-specific translations.


gender specific translation

Gender-specific translations on the Google Translate website.

In the future, we plan to extend gender-specific translations to more languages, launch on other Translate surfaces like our iOS and Android apps, and address gender bias in features like query auto-complete. And we're already thinking about how to address non-binary gender in translations, though it’s not part of this initial launch.


To check out gender-specific translations, visit the Google Translate website, and you can get more information on our Google Translate Help Center page.

Source: Translate


A new look for Google Translate on the web

It’s been twelve years since the launch of Google Translate, and since then Translate has evolved to keep up with the ways people use it. Initially translating between English and Arabic only, we now translate 30 trillion sentences per year across 103 languages.

Google Translate has become an essential tool for communicating across languages, and we recently redesigned the Translate website to make it easier to use. Here’s what you need to know:

  • The site’s new look is now consistent with other Google products, and updated labeling and typography make it easier to navigate. For instance, you’ve always been able to upload documents for translation, but now that feature is easier to find. 
  • Now it’s even more convenient to save and organize important translations you regularly utilize or search for. We’ve added labels to each saved translation, so if you speak multiple languages, you can sort and group your translations with a single click.
  • We've made the website responsive so it can adjust dynamically for your screen size. So when we launch new features, you get a great web experience across all your devices: mobile, tablet, or desktop. 
translate web redesign gif

The new responsive website adjusts dynamically to your screen size.

To check out the new site, visit translate.google.com.

Source: Translate


Bringing hope to a refugee family, using Google Translate

In 2015, I joined Google to be a part of a company using technology to help others. I’m proud that Google’s commitment to its mission—to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful—remains strong 20 years in. I knew I wanted to be a part of it all, but had no idea that I would experience the power of our mission firsthand, and that it would help me to forge a friendship when I least expected it.

For the past three years, my wife and I have been working with organizations involved with refugee resettlement efforts. We both have immigrant parents, so we’ve heard stories about resettling in a country to make a better life for your children, but being forced to leave a country is very different. These refugees are often fleeing from life threatening situations. Aside from dealing with their past trauma and being in an unfamiliar place without a support system, they often can’t speak the local language.

My wife and I learned of a family of four—Nour, Mariam, three-year old Sanah and six-month-old Yousuf—who settled in Rialto, 45 minutes from where my wife and I grew up in Southern California. Through the assistance of organizations such as Hearts of Mercy and Miry’s List, they settled into an apartment shortly before giving birth to Yousuf. Still recovering from injuries sustained in Syria, Nour was unable to work, and had to rely on the help of others to get by. Without a car, their options were further limited. Then, in April of this year, they faced their hardest challenge yet: their daughter Sanah was diagnosed with Stage 4 Neuroblastoma.

We wanted to help, but didn’t know where to start—and as new parents ourselves, we could relate on a personal level. We fundraised for the family and collected toys for Yousuf and Sanah in hopes that they could feel supported. Moreso, we wanted to help them get through Sanah’s treatments with as little to worry about as possible.

A few weeks after we first heard of their story, we went to their home to meet in person. Nour was waiting outside for us, and we quickly realized there was a challenge that we had overlooked: the family only spoke Arabic. There I was, face to face with Nour, wanting to hear his story and reassure him that he’s surrounded by a supportive community, but couldn't convey those thoughts or give Nour the ability to convey his. The only option I could think of was Google Translate, which I had used in previous international trips, and hoped would bridge this gap.

I opened the app to translate a few words, but we couldn’t get far by manually typing sentences. Instead, I tried "conversation" mode, which allows for real-time audio translations and makes the interaction feel more natural. We talked about his family’s story and what they were up against. I learned that back in Syria, Nour was shot twice in the back, and endured the deaths of his brothers. Now, Nour and Mariam are giving up everything to take care of Sanah and spend up to two hours commuting on a bus to and from her hospital treatments. Through all of this, they continue to be optimistic and hopeful, and are grateful for being able to make it to America.

image (2).png

A snapshot of my visit with Nour.

I never imagined that we could sustain a 90-minute conversation in two languages, and that it would bring us closer together, inspiring me in a way I didn’t expect. Without Translate, we would have exchanged a few pleasantries, shared poorly communicated words and parted ways. Instead, we walked away with a bond built on an understanding of one another—we were just two fathers, talking about our fears and hopes for our family’s future. To this day, we stay connected on how the family is doing, and I’m looking forward to keeping this relationship going for a long time.

Refugee families often find themselves in situations that may seem normal to you and me—like at the DMV trying to get a driver’s license—or worse, in a dire situation like a hospital, with no way of communicating. We generally think of technology as an enabler of change, driving efficiency or making the impossible happen. But in this case, technology allowed me to make a life-changing connection, and brought me closer to family who was very far away from home.

Source: Translate


Tune in for the world’s first Google Translate music tour

Eleven years ago, Google Translate was created to break down language barriers. Since then, it has enabled billions of people and businesses all over the world to talk, connect and understand each other in new ways.

And we’re still re-imagining how it can be used—most recently, with music. The music industry in Sweden is one of the world's most successful exporters of hit music in English—with artists such Abba, The Cardigans and Avicii originating from the country. But there are still many talented Swedish artists who may not get the recognition or success they deserve except for in a small country up in the north.

This sparked an idea: might it be possible to use Google Translate with the sole purpose of breaking a Swedish band internationally?

Today, we’re presenting Translate Tour, in which up and coming Swedish indie pop group Vita Bergen will be using Google Translate to perform their new single “Tänd Ljusen” in three different languages—English, Spanish and French—on the streets of three different European cities. In just a couple of days, the band will set off to London, Paris and Madrid to sing their locally adapted songs in front of the eyes of the public—with the aim of spreading Swedish music culture and inviting people all over the world to tune into the band’s cross-European indie pop music.

Translate Tour 2_Credit Anton Olin.jpg

William Hellström from Vita Bergen will be performing his song in English, Spanish and French.

Last year Google Translate switched from phrase-based translation to Google Neural Machine Translation, which means that the tool now translates whole sentences at a time, rather than just piece by piece. It uses this broader context to figure out the most relevant translation, which it then rearranges and adjusts to be more like a human speaking with proper grammar.

Using this updated version of Google Translate, the English, Spanish and French translations of the song were close to flawless. The translations will also continue to improve, as the system learns from the more people using it.

Tune in to Vita Bergen’s release event, live streamed on YouTube today at 5:00 p.m. CEST, or listen to the songs in Swedish (“Tänd Ljusen”), English (“Light the Lights”), Spanish (“Enciende las Luces”) and French (“Allumez les Lumières”).

Source: Translate


Making the internet more inclusive in India

More than 400 million people in India use the internet, and more are coming online every day. But the vast majority of India’s online content is in English, which only 20 percent of the country’s population speaks—meaning most Indians have a hard time finding content and services in their language.

Building for everyone means first and foremost making things work in the languages people speak. That’s why we’ve now brought our new neural machine translation technology to translations between English and nine widely used Indian languages—Hindi, Bengali, Marathi, Gujarati, Punjabi, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada.

Neural machine translation translates full sentences at a time, instead of pieces of a sentence, using this broader context to help it figure out the most relevant translation. The result is higher-quality, more human sounding translations.

Just like it’s easier to learn a language when you already know a related language, our neural technology speaks each language better when it learns several at a time. For example, we have a whole lot more sample data for Hindi than its relatives Marathi and Bengali, but when we train them all together, the translations for all improve more than if we’d trained each individually.

NMT Translation India.jpg
Left: Phrase-based translation; right: neural machine translation

These improvements to Google Translate in India join several other updates we announced at an event in New Delhi today, including neutral machine translation in Chrome and bringing the Rajpal & Sons Hindi dictionary online so it’s easier for Hindi speakers to find word meanings right in search results. All these improvements help make the web more useful for hundreds of millions of Indians, and bring them closer to benefiting from the full value of the internet.

Source: Translate


Making the internet more inclusive in India

More than 400 million people in India use the internet, and more are coming online every day. But the vast majority of India’s online content is in English, which only 20 percent of the country’s population speaks—meaning most Indians have a hard time finding content and services in their language.

Building for everyone means first and foremost making things work in the languages people speak. That’s why we’ve now brought our new neural machine translation technology to translations between English and nine widely used Indian languages—Hindi, Bengali, Marathi, Gujarati, Punjabi, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada.

Neural machine translation translates full sentences at a time, instead of pieces of a sentence, using this broader context to help it figure out the most relevant translation. The result is higher-quality, more human sounding translations.

Just like it’s easier to learn a language when you already know a related language, our neural technology speaks each language better when it learns several at a time. For example, we have a whole lot more sample data for Hindi than its relatives Marathi and Bengali, but when we train them all together, the translations for all improve more than if we’d trained each individually.

NMT Translation India.jpg
Left: Phrase-based translation; right: neural machine translation

These improvements to Google Translate in India join several other updates we announced at an event in New Delhi today, including neutral machine translation in Chrome and bringing the Rajpal & Sons Hindi dictionary online so it’s easier for Hindi speakers to find word meanings right in search results. All these improvements help make the web more useful for hundreds of millions of Indians, and bring them closer to benefiting from the full value of the internet.

Source: Translate


Even better translations in Chrome, with one tap

Half the world’s webpages are in English, but less than 15 percent of the global population speaks it as a primary or secondary language. It’s no surprise that Chrome’s built-in Translate functionality is one of the most beloved Chrome features. Every day Chrome users translate more than 150 million webpages with just one click or tap.

Last year, Google Translate introduced neural machine translation, which uses deep neural networks to translate entire sentences, rather than just phrases, to figure out the most relevant translation. Since then we’ve been gradually making these improvements available for Chrome’s built-in translation for select language pairs. The result is higher-quality, full-page translations that are more accurate and easier to read.

Today, neural machine translation improvement is coming to Translate in Chrome for nine more language pairs. Neural machine translation will be used for most pages to and from English for Indonesian and eight Indian languages: Bengali, Gujarati, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Punjabi, Tamil and Telugu. This means higher quality translations on pages containing everything from song lyrics to news articles to cricket discussions.
translation.png
From left: A webpage in Indonesian; the page translated into English without neural machine translation; the page translated into English with neural machine translation. As you can see, the translations after neural machine translation are more fluid and natural.

The addition of these nine languages brings the total number of languages enabled with neural machine translations in Chrome to more than 20. You can already translate to and from English for Chinese, French, German, Hebrew, Hindi, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Thai, Turkish, Vietnamese, and one-way from Spanish to English.

We’ll bring neural machine translation to even more languages in the future. Until then, learn more about enabling Translate in Chrome in our help center.

Source: Translate


Even better translations in Chrome, with one tap

Half the world’s webpages are in English, but less than 15 percent of the global population speaks it as a primary or secondary language. It’s no surprise that Chrome’s built-in Translate functionality is one of the most beloved Chrome features. Every day Chrome users translate more than 150 million webpages with just one click or tap.

Last year, Google Translate introduced neural machine translation, which uses deep neural networks to translate entire sentences, rather than just phrases, to figure out the most relevant translation. Since then we’ve been gradually making these improvements available for Chrome’s built-in translation for select language pairs. The result is higher-quality, full-page translations that are more accurate and easier to read.

Today, neural machine translation improvement is coming to Translate in Chrome for nine more language pairs. Neural machine translation will be used for most pages to and from English for Indonesian and eight Indian languages: Bengali, Gujarati, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Punjabi, Tamil and Telugu. This means higher quality translations on pages containing everything from song lyrics to news articles to cricket discussions.
translation.png
From left: A webpage in Indonesian; the page translated into English without neural machine translation; the page translated into English with neural machine translation. As you can see, the translations after neural machine translation are more fluid and natural.

The addition of these nine languages brings the total number of languages enabled with neural machine translations in Chrome to more than 20. You can already translate to and from English for Chinese, French, German, Hebrew, Hindi, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Thai, Turkish, Vietnamese, and one-way from Spanish to English.

We’ll bring neural machine translation to even more languages in the future. Until then, learn more about enabling Translate in Chrome in our help center.

Source: Translate


The Arrival of our 32nd Word Lens Language, Heptapod B

We’re honored to have partnered with Dr. Louise Banks, esteemed linguistics professor, to develop instant camera translation for our 32nd language, Heptapod B. Following our experience with logograms in Chinese and Japanese, as well as the many characters containing circles in Korean, we were ready to blend our expertise in low-memory-footprint convolutional modeling and Dr. Banks’ linguistic background to the deciphering of circular logograms in the Word Lens feature in the Google Translate app.

Translate_Arrival_1.png

The challenge with understanding Heptapod B is its nonlinear orthography. Fortunately, Google's neural machine translation system employs an encoder/decoder system that internally represents sentences as high-dimensional vectors. These vectors map well to the non-linear orthography of the Heptapod language and they are really the enabling technical factor in translating Heptapod B.

We interpret Heptapod B into English, Chinese, Danish, Japanese, Urdu, Russian, French, Spanish and Arabic. As with our other Word Lens languages, it works offline, which is really handy if you happen to need to read a circular logogram in an isolated location. Dr. Banks assures us that the app will continue to work for at least 3,000 years.

Translate_Arrival_2.png

Communicating across language (and glass) barriers can be a rather alienating experience. While learning a new writing system can be quite rewarding and even a mind-altering experience, not everyone has time for that. So whether the world’s fate hangs in the balance, or if you’re simply trying to discern whether your coffee stain ring means something, we wish you success as you integrate this tool into the story of your life.

(Okay, if you haven’t guessed already... we’re just having some fun here. But we really are eager to bring Word Lens and Neural translation to more languages,
so stay tuned.)

Source: Translate


The Arrival of our 32nd Word Lens Language, Heptapod B

We’re honored to have partnered with Dr. Louise Banks, esteemed linguistics professor, to develop instant camera translation for our 32nd language, Heptapod B. Following our experience with logograms in Chinese and Japanese, as well as the many characters containing circles in Korean, we were ready to blend our expertise in low-memory-footprint convolutional modeling and Dr. Banks’ linguistic background to the deciphering of circular logograms in the Word Lens feature in the Google Translate app.

Translate_Arrival_1.png

The challenge with understanding Heptapod B is its nonlinear orthography. Fortunately, Google's neural machine translation system employs an encoder/decoder system that internally represents sentences as high-dimensional vectors. These vectors map well to the non-linear orthography of the Heptapod language and they are really the enabling technical factor in translating Heptapod B.

We interpret Heptapod B into English, Chinese, Danish, Japanese, Urdu, Russian, French, Spanish and Arabic. As with our other Word Lens languages, it works offline, which is really handy if you happen to need to read a circular logogram in an isolated location. Dr. Banks assures us that the app will continue to work for at least 3,000 years.

Translate_Arrival_2.png

Communicating across language (and glass) barriers can be a rather alienating experience. While learning a new writing system can be quite rewarding and even a mind-altering experience, not everyone has time for that. So whether the world’s fate hangs in the balance, or if you’re simply trying to discern whether your coffee stain ring means something, we wish you success as you integrate this tool into the story of your life.

(Okay, if you haven’t guessed already... we’re just having some fun here. But we really are eager to bring Word Lens and Neural translation to more languages,
so stay tuned.)

Source: Translate