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The languages that defy auto-translate

BBC Machine Minds – “There are more than 7,000 languages in the world, 4,000 of which are written. Yet only 100 or so can be translated by automated tools such as Google Translate. New research promises to let us communicate with the others too… If the message is in French or Spanish, typing it into an automatic translation engine will instantly solve the mystery and produce a solid answer in English. But many other languages still defy machine translation, including languages spoken by millions of people, such as Wolof, Luganda, Twi and Ewe in Africa. That’s because the algorithms that power these engines learn from human translations – ideally, millions of words of translated text. There is an abundance of such material for languages like English, French, Spanish and German, thanks to multilingual institutions like the Canadian parliament, the United Nations and the European Union. Their human translators churn out streams of translated transcripts and other documents. The European Parliament alone produces a data trove of 1.37 billion words in 23 languages over a decade…”

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