From the Atlantic, this fascinating essay on Google Translate at an interesting point in its growth:
Last week Google Translate announced that it now has more than 200 million monthly users. As Alexis Madrigal noted, this means that Google is now translating as much in a day as all professional human translators combined complete in a year — an amount of text equivalent to a million books.
Google Translate is far from perfect … but it is one Google products for which one can unequivocally say that it does more good than harm. Because of Google Translate, millions of people access ideas that would have once remained impenetrable.
Google Translate handles 65 languages now. But as it grows, the essay suggests, it’s time for it to add more regional languages and dialects, going beyond each country’s official language (and/or its shared lingua franca) to unlock ideas and connect minds from all communities.
As TED translator Anwar Dafa-Alla comments: “In Sudan, there are 600 different ethnic groups who speak more than 400 languages and dialects. Adding more local and national languages to Google Translate is very important for the future of our humanity.”