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Update from Google LLC

Publication date: 5 July 2024

Today, Google announced the addition of 110 new languages to its web and smartphone translation app, making Google Translate more comprehensive than ever with a total of 243 languages! This is the largest expansion since 2022, when 24 new languages were added using zero-shot machine translation.

The expansion leverages PaLM 2, a transformer-based large language model developed by Google Research. Trained on the vast Pathways dataset (1.56 trillion words and 250 billion parameters), PaLM 2 offers unprecedented fluency and accuracy with written languages. While it doesn’t handle images or audio like its successor Gemini, its linguistic capabilities are impressive, including understanding idiomatic phrases.

Key highlights of this expansion:

Language Variety: From widely spoken languages like Cantonese to nearly extinct ones like Manx.

Significant Impact: New languages represent over 614 million speakers, about 8% of the world’s population.

African Languages: Largest expansion of African languages to date, including Fon, Kikongo, Luo, Ga, Swati, Venda, and Wolof.

Isaac Caswell, a senior software engineer at Google Translate, emphasized the importance of preserving linguistic diversity, mentioning the inclusion of languages with active revitalization efforts and those spoken by small communities of Indigenous people.

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